Getting Through The Wall

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Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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51 Responses

  1. Avatar Mark of New Jersey says:

    Thanks for the opportunity to return! I’ll try to play in the comments tonight. I apologize that my writing skills have deteriorated from nonuse the last few years. I miss this place so much and I hope everyone is doing well!Report

  2. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Happy to hear from you, Mark. kudos to the editors for this anniversary series. (True to form I made what I considered a brief entry in it as a guest contributor last week.)

    One thing I’m not clear about right now is whether Democrats have a hard position of not making any deal prior to a reopening of government because the concessions to Trump will be seen as rewarding the shutdown tactic. To be clear, are you calling for them to set aside such a position if they currently maintain it (whether publicly or privately)?

    If so, I agree with that view. However, I am not sure that any deal that provides as much as $3 billion in wall funding will be seen by Trump and his allies as a clear loss, no matter how great the immigration policy concessions attaches are. I think Trump and Trump people are fundamentally attached to the wall – and it really only needs to be something that gets called a wall, whatever it actually is – as a symbol of protection of traditional (white) American culture, and, for Trump himself, as a symbol of his ability to do “the deal.” I don’t think Trump or his closest followers care as much about various other immigration questions that the anti-immigration movement cares very deeply about – much more than they do about the wall.

    As such, I’m not sure that Trump will see a deal where he can walk away from this conflict with multiple billions of dollars in wall-labeled funding, and moreover conceptual approval for wall-building from Congress, as an unambiguous loss that makes him feel he couldn’t ever conceive of undertaking a move like it again.

    But on the other other hand, I don’t think that is as great a concern as it seems almost everyone else does. I read Trump to already feel that he is in the deepest political peril he’s yet been in other than because of this move. His multiple unsuccessful appeals to the public to see his case for his actions are not a strong look. Giving him a way out that allows him to claim a win to my way of thinking merely does that – let’s him out. I don’t think he would elect to go down this road again unless he is denied any way to say that he got out of it what he was seeking. I realize that is the opposite of the conventional view, but I really think that, as this was a desperation move that has stayed desperate throughout, dealing him complete defeat could just yield deeper desperation and thus even more desperate moves, along the logic that the stakes were not high enough; surely Pelosi will cane if the nation’s credit ratings are at stake.

    To be shorter about it, I agree with your prescription, but I’m not sure either Trump nor the Democrats would characterize it like you do, as an unambiguous loss for Trump on his terms, which are really *all* about the wall. *On the policy merits*, it would very much be a win for Democrats, and they should be looking to make this deal, but for both sides it would very much be a symbolic loss, and it seems aversion to that loss is dominating both sides’ thinking at present. That may change, but until it does an outright cave by one side or the other still seems the most likely outcome for now.

    Again, great to get to read your thoughts again.Report

    • Avatar Mark of New Jersey in reply to Michael Drew says:

      Thanks, Michael. Yeah, I get your point here and I think that’s a fair interpretation. That said, with the way Trump views everything as zero sum and the amount of outrage amongst the people he listens to, I still think something like the above would be a real victory for the Dems. While the immigration policy concessions are critical, to me the provisions about the debt ceiling are more important (and if there’s something they can do to remove leverage points on next years appropriations, that should be included here too). He has made it his priority to get no less than the 5.7 Billion, so I think he’d view anything less as a loss. But if that was paired with what amounts to a guarantee he wont be able to do this again to get another penny for his wall (which in total needs more than $25 billion), then I think even he would view that as a loss.

      Regardless, the Dems need to get a helluva lot more than what’s on offer right now.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Mark of New Jersey says:

        If they could get the debt ceiling raised in a deal a lot of the danger of it happening again would be mitigated anyway.Report

      • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Mark of New Jersey says:

        Ideally they write legislation so that if congress, the president and political appointees (including WH and Cabinet officials) get paid, then so does any federal employee. Or at a minimum, any federal employee who is required to continue working. That alone would help prevent future hostage taking.Report

        • Probably the simplest proposal that has been put forward is an automatic continuing resolution. If an appropriation expires, then it is automatically extended for some amount of time, say a month. Can’t do that for the Department of Defense (Article 1 Section 8) but the rest of it could continue on auto-pilot.

          Myself, when I was on a state legislative budget staff, I always argued against permanent appropriations with the exception of programs that carried large federal penalties for interrupted service. OTOH, with the exception of the handful of (big) programs that are permanently appropriated, our budget is constitutionally required to be all or nothing. The legislature is allowed to pass only the one budget bill (the “Long Bill”, because it is) each year. They’ve never failed to pass one.Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to bookdragon says:

          I don’t think that would pass Constitutional muster. Congress has to authorize funding, and it does this in various funding bills. They can’t spend money except through such funding bills. What you suggest is a law that says they spend the money whether they authorize it or not, basically authorizing unauthorized spending.

          But if we go down that route, why not a law that says Trump gets the money to build a border wall whether the spending is authorized by Congress or not?

          Of course, that’s closer to the reality, since he can just reallocate DHS and DoD funding to build it anyway. Even his ridiculously high ask of $5.7 billion is enough for 12 lanes of highway along the proposed stretch of wall, or a hundred miles of four-lane overpass.Report

          • Avatar bookdragon in reply to George Turner says:

            And yet money is there to pay Stephen Miller…

            Seems like we could find a way to allocate money to make sure people who actually qualify as essential personnel are paid.Report

            • Avatar George Turner in reply to bookdragon says:

              Well, perhaps someone will come up with $5.7 billion for a wall, that both parties have already voted for in the past, and then everybody can get paid. Otherwise this could go on for months, forcing many people to quit their government jobs due to financial constraints.

              One obvious fix is to have the 800,000 affected federal workers each kick in $7,000 toward the wall, which would pay for the whole $5.7 billion. Then, once the government reopens, Congress could vote to reimburse them. That way they keep their jobs, the paychecks keep arriving, and the House and Senate Democrats didn’t have to approve any funds for Trump’s wall, which they actually want whenever Trump isn’t pushing for it, and yet the wall gets built. It’s a win-win.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to George Turner says:

            I don’t think that would pass Constitutional muster. Congress has to authorize funding, and it does this in various funding bills. They can’t spend money except through such funding bills. What you suggest is a law that says they spend the money whether they authorize it or not, basically authorizing unauthorized spending.

            I think the theory is more that every single authorization of spending should apply _forever_. Or at least that’s how I think it should work. As far as I can tell, there’s nothing in the constitution about how long spending bills can be for…except for the military, which can only be for two years.

            So for all other spending, Congress should say ‘This spending applies this year…and next year, and next year, and forever, until we change it.’

            Honestly, that makes the most sense anyway. Nothing else the government does expires every year, and we generally have the premise that the currently-elected politicians should have agree to make changes. If someone wants to change an actual law, they can find the votes and get it passed. No one can, for example, want to legalize pot and thus blow up the yearly ‘drug bill’ and suddenly all drugs are legal. But the budget is this rather idiotic point of failure where someone can basically veto the operation of the entire government. And results in absurdities like us not paying people while demanding they work or get fired, which would literally be illegal if it was anyone but the government asking this. (Honestly, I’m not actually sure it isn’t still illegal. Someone please point me to the exception in minimum wage law that allows it.)

            If someone can’t get the votes to change the budget, just like if they can’t get the votes to change the law, everything should stay the same. It’s…actually a somewhat conservative principle in the technical sense of ‘conservative’. And conservatives should like the fact that, thanks to inflation, it means all spending would slowly decrease if we didn’t pass new levels.

            And it’s _still_ easier to screw with the budget than any other law…the Senate has special rules about it, and spending levels generally need to change a lot so we’d be revisiting the spending pretty often anyway. Hell, we might actually start doing it regularly again once that no one ever thinks about using it for hostage taking.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

              Oh, and we know this is constitutional, because a huge amount of the government spending already works this way. Social Security does, for example, and that actually changes from year-to-year based on calculated cost of living and other things. The legislative can change it, if they want, and I presume it sometimes does. But otherwise, it just keeps being in effect.

              At least, I assume we know this constitutional. Presumably, if the constitutionality of ‘Congress isn’t passing a new budget about this each year’ was even slightly in question, some political group that was opposed to social security would have sued over it.

              Edit: Also, the ‘To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;’ line in the constitution is the ‘exception that proves the rule’. If that is restricted to only two years, than the ‘default allowed time’ must be longer than that for the specific military exception to it to be required. So…as the only hypothetical time periods that possibly make sense are ‘one year’ or ‘the length of a legislative session at two years’, are both not correct, there seems to be no obviously stopping point.Report

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    Hi Mark, glad to see you stopping by.

    I generally agree with what you suggest. It’s a major PITA that the entire immigration debate is being squeezed down to this since we obviously aren’t really trying to deal with the top line issues. We’re just nibbling at the symbolic scam of a wall. The D’s have some coherent positions that have the additional virtue of being popular so good for them. I don’t know what will break this impasse given we’re stuck with hard liners who are opposed to any compromise that is palatable for the majority of the populace.Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I don’t know how this ends until life gets really much more painful for everyone. As LeeEsq said on the video thread from yesterday, Democrats rejected Trump’s deal because it wasn’t a deal at all. It was hostage taking. From what I read, the “deal” came about without talking to any Democrats, it came from a conversation between Kushner and Pence.

    I’ve heard that some Senate Republicans are starting to get nervous but McConnell refuses to budge and bring something to the floor. He can end it all if he wants to. McConnell’s great gift has always been not giving a shit if everyone hates him. At what point does the GOP donor class start calling to McConnell and saying “enough?”Report

  5. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Always a pleasure, Mark. And this post is, as usual, full of good sense.Report

  6. Avatar North says:

    Great post Mark, it’s been way too long!Report

  7. Avatar Aaron David says:

    Its good to see you Mark.Report

  8. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Resident immigration lawyer here to report that the shut down is going to continue for the foreseeable future. The Bridge Act that McConnell brought offers no fig leaf to the Democratic Party besides renewing DACA, it doesn’t even extend TPS as promised. Furthermore, it adds a lot of poisonous pills in terms of massive restrictions on asylum that don’t make sense. There is no such thing as out of country applications for asylum because every United States official that has authority to grant asylum is based within the United States. There is simply no way this will past the Senate without eliminating the filibuster. It is dead on arrival in the Democratic house because it goes against what the Democratic Party and their voters want on immigration.

    We are being administrated by absolutely horrible and incompetent people. Trump’s compromise on immigration is to be only slightly less of an asshole as he normally his. Miller isn’t going to let any remotely pro-immigration legislation pass. McConnell is going to be what every type of asshole he wants to be. The American political system lacks any method of dealing with these a-holes until 2020. Mueller will have to release a truly spectacular report on Trump to get the Senate to convict him.

    The federal judiciary is about to run out of money. As an immigration lawyer practicing in the one of few states that refuses to allow lawyers to waive into the bar, I feel like my life is being dominated by utterly remorseless gatekeepers that refuse to give one bit. They aren’t letting people live.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to LeeEsq says:

      We usually grant asylum overseas, for example, processing the applications for Syrians living in camps in Jordan. A serious issue came up during the Obama Administration because we weren’t granting asylum to Syrian or Iraqi Christians, or at least no more than a handful. The State Department played like they had nothing to do with it, saying they only accepted applications via the UN process in the UN run refugee camps, camps where Christian refugees wouldn’t go due to safety concerns.

      The US State Department, under Obama, also took the stance that Syrian Christians didn’t qualify for US asylum because they weren’t being targeted by their government. We didn’t count ISIS, al Nusra, al Qaeda, or any other terrorist armies as “a government”, perhaps for political reasons, and since Assad was allied with Syrian Christians, they weren’t eligible for asylum.

      Secondly, asylum is granted by the first safe country of arrival. A refugee isn’t supposed to be able to travel through multiple safe countries just to claim asylum in the place with the best welfare benefits. We will, however, resettle people who were granted asylum in other countries. This has been a major issue in Europe since Angela Merkel invited Syrians to Germany, and caused quite a lot of diplomatic back and forth because the European border countries sure didn’t want to get stuck with millions of refugees who were trying to get to Germany, France, and Scandinavia.

      If a Christian or Yazidi fleeing ISIS death gangs doesn’t qualify, how does fleeing general Guatemalan street crime qualify as valid claim? And generally they won’t. No Latin American country is even in the top ten countries of origin for US asylum, and all of Latin America, including the Caribbean, is capped at about 5,000 a year.

      So only a tiny percentage of those slipping over the border will have their claim approved and be granted asylum.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to LeeEsq says:

      So is one thing you’re saying that Trump made a proposal that makes just giving him a bit of wall funding for free (or, say, for eliminating the debt ceiling) in order to get the government open seem like the more attractive option by comparison, but got headlines like this from the paper of record?

      https://static01.nyt.com/images/2019/01/20/nytfrontpage/scan.pdfReport

    • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Thing is, subtract Trump from the equation and evaluate everything.

      A Presidential Candidate ran on something that will cost 5(ish) Billion dollars. For perspective, Google suggests Obamacare costs between $700 Billion and $940 Billion.

      Also, the Dems were in favor of border security until Trump ran on it. That’s not “one think tank which never ran for office” that’s Nancy Pelosi and (judging from how he ramped up security) Obama.

      The shutdown is a two year old’s temper tantrum, but the conflict is being manufactured by the adults. A normal President would be allowed to have 5 Billion to build his can’t-possibility-work white elephant. The “Resist” crowd wants conflict with Trump. This is what conflict with Trump looks like.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Dark Matter says:

        I love this “defense” of Trump. Really strong work. You would think he could have had his 5 bill or more when the R’s held both houses and he could have gotten a lollypop on top of it.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to greginak says:

          “Resist” existed right out of the gate, there was no honeymoon, and the GOP never had 60 votes. This always would have needed Dem votes thus a deal.Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Dark Matter says:

            You mean like the deal for 25 billion for a wall last year in exchange for the daca kids. Yeah that was a deal. Expert deal makers make deals; they find stuff both sides want and exchange them. D’s were on board with that and the toddler (your word) said no.

            But he is the deal maker at least in his imagination. Now he is stomping his feet for much less money and not offering anything in return. He had his win and whizzed it down his leg.Report

          • Avatar Mr.Joe in reply to Dark Matter says:

            They could have stuffed the money in the ACA “lite-repeal”, but didn’t. They could have stuffed the money in the TCJA, but didn’t. I expect there are reasons why.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Dark Matter says:

        The shutdown is a two year old’s temper tantrum, but the conflict is being manufactured by the adults. A normal President would be allowed to have 5 Billion to build his can’t-possibility-work white elephant.

        A normal president also wouldn’t have made the concept so toxic by using it as a racism chanting point that his own party felt it was so damaging to their relection chances that they had him defer it.

        Pretending that Democrats should be judged by the standards of a universe with a ‘normal president’ is absurd unless you also judge Republicans that way.

        Likewise, if Trump wants to argue for the wall, he has the right to do so. I remind you he, literally, has not. He’s never tried to put a bill in front of the current House until this rather absurd ‘compromise’ that had no Democratic input and actually adds a lot of stuff Democrats don’t like, and very little that is meaningful to them. In fact, he didn’t try to put a bill in front of the last Congress, IIRC. He simply abruptly refused to sign a continuing resolution he’d already agreed to sign, shutting down the government.

        Which means that he can’t, as a matter of principle, be given the Wall, because he’s now taken hostages. And as it comes up every time someone does this, we can’t start rewarding this behavior.

        And by ‘someone’ I mean Republicans, because they are the only people who think they can change the operation of the government via threating not to pass a budget until the Democrats cave. Like that ‘Obama shutdown’ people keep referencing was a Republican attempt to undo Obamacare by stripping away spending from the program…without having the votes to actually get ‘removing the program’ through a presidential veto. The Wall is the same thing. (And it somehow didn’t have the votes even when the same party controlled everything. Yes, there would have been fillibusters, but…being legitimately spending, it could have been done via reconciliation.)

        Elected Republicans have somehow decided they have a right to force Democrats to change things via threating harm to this country, because they simply do not have the votes to change what they want to change, and can’t understand that means they don’t get to do it.

        We can’t actually start allowing this hostage taking, because the end result is turning politics into a game of Chicken where the craziest person willing to cause the most harm gets whatever they want. What if Democrats in the House refused to pass a budget unless it included a very strong Federal abortion law just in case Roe v. Wade is overturned? Hell, what if they refused to pass a budget that included the current Hyde amendment? And I remind people, there’s no way to override Congress, unlike the president.

        As a matter of principle, and this is true _regardless_ of who the president is and who has Congress and how rational or irrational any demands are, we can’t start allowing political actors to break the country by not passing a budget until their demands are met. We cannot negotiate with people taking hostages.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC says:

          “[Trump has] never tried to put a bill in front of the current House…”

          Considering that border security is an Executive function and not a Legislative one, I can’t see why he would do that, or why he should be expected to.

          “Which means that he can’t, as a matter of principle, be given the Wall, because he’s now taken hostages.”

          broke: act like adults and negotiate in good faith so that everyone can get some of what they want
          woke: compromise is capitulation, they’ll just grab more next time, Chamberlain was obviously wrong and Churchill was the smart oneReport

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck says:

            Considering that border security is an Executive function and not a Legislative one, I can’t see why he would do that, or why he should be expected to.

            Funding border security is a legislative function.

            If he wanted more funding for border security that was earmarked for a wall, or hell, just more funding in general, he should put it in his new budget proposal, which should be coming out soon.

            And, presumably, just like what happened under the entirely Republican Congress last year when he asked for $18 billion, Congress will completely ignore his request.

            And because he does not have the vote to get that, we move on.

            broke: act like adults and negotiate in good faith so that everyone can get some of what they want

            It is not possible to negotiate in good faith with a person that has taken hostages.Report

            • Avatar Mr.Joe in reply to DavidTC says:

              >It is not possible to negotiate in good faith with a person that has taken
              >hostages.

              Sure it is. Hostage taking is just a negotiating tactic. In this case, the proper response is tell the President: The value of the “hostage” is zero. Continuing to “torture the hostage” will really only hurt him. However, if he wants to make a deal on the $5.7B that is possible. Here is what it is gonna cost you…

              He really wants/needs the wall money, not just any $5.7B. It is super extra special $5.7B and Democrats can get a hell of a lot for it.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC says:

          “As a matter of principle, and this is true _regardless_ of who the president is and who has Congress and how rational or irrational any demands are, we can’t start allowing political actors to break the country by not passing a budget until their demands are met. We cannot negotiate with people taking hostages.”

          uh wait

          uh

          who is not passing the budget here?

          who is refusing to act?

          maybe you wanna rethink this oneReport

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck says:

            who is not passing the budget here?

            The House, the 2016 Republican House, passed a budget that the Senate and Trump had indicated they were okay with, then Trump said he wouldn’t sign it so the Senate wouldn’t take it up.

            who is refusing to act?

            The people who have refused to pass a clean continuing resolution. Which technically speaking is the Senate, but they’re doing it because of Trump. So blame either one, I don’t really care?

            The people who are refusing to act are not the Democrats.

            You can’t just magically wave your hands and assert both sides are refusing to pass what the other side wants. What is actually happening is that one group of people want to change policy, but that group of people is not large enough to overcome the group of people who do not want this change. (‘not large enough’ under the weird semi-random legislative system we have, we all know how that works, I won’t explain it here.)

            There is a fundamental difference between the two sides. One side wants something to change, the other does not. In politics, if you want to change things, you have to have the votes. The people who want this change do not have the votes. Ergo, they do not get this change they wish.

            And before anyone goes ‘But wait, there have been times that smaller groups have leveraged their power to get changes’…yeah, and that’s generally okay, if someone figures out some pressure point and we end up getting laws that only a small minority of legislators want, that’s just how the game is played. If some random person withholds their crucial vote for a party’s agenda item unless they get X, and they’re basically the only person who wants X but it ends up as law, well, that’s fine. The system can live with that.

            The thing the system can’t live with is using shutdowns as leverage, because that specific leverage is basically ‘damaging the American government and America until people cry uncle’, so if we actually allowed that method as procedure, we’d basically be ceding power to the people most willing to risk harm.

            It’s like deciding custody rights of a baby by who is willing to throw it the highest in the air.

            As I pointed out, Republicans seem to think it is acceptable to try to do this, and Democrats don’t. All the shutdowns(1) that lead to employees being out of work(2) have fundamentally been because Republicans don’t like the current law, and also don’t have ‘the votes’ to change things, regardless of how they get reported in the press.(3) Sometimes it’s the president who doesn’t have the votes and demands things, sometime it’s Congress, but it’s always a Republican wanting a change and refusing to agree to a CR that does not have the change. Sometimes the other side(4) caves, sometimes they do not, but it’s always the Republicans saying ‘Agree to our changes or the government will cease to operate’.

            If we ever get to the point where both parties think this is acceptable, we are completely screwed as a country.

            1) Well, except the first one on May 1, 1980, which was basically carelessness.
            2) As opposed to short funding gaps that didn’t actually do anything.
            3) The 1996 shutdown is interesting. Both sides wanted something in the ongoing budget dispute, but, the actual reason the government shut down is that the Republicans tried to change things in the CR that was supposed to keep things open during that budget dispute, and Clinton refused to sign.
            4) Hilarious, sometimes the other side is also Republicans, like in 1990.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to DavidTC says:

          If we’re all cool with Obama doing something, then claiming it’s poisonous because Trump also wants to do it means the core principle the Dems are protecting is “resist”. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for that. I also don’t have a lot of sympathy for claiming “because Trump” no matter how that’s dressed up.

          5B is pocket change by Congress’ standards. The two year old in question has access to lots of things I’d rather see not broken, and we’re not going to teach Trump ethics or morality. If you want him to chase this a different way then you need to actually present him with a different way to get some pocket change.

          What if Democrats in the House refused to pass a budget unless it included a very strong Federal abortion law just in case Roe v. Wade is overturned?

          You mean, what if the GOP wants something that isn’t the equiv of pocket change? Something that the Dems have traditionally opposed rather than supported? Something that involves actual ethics or principles other than “because Trump” and “resist”?

          I think then you could claim not yielding would be a principled stand, and you’d be picking your battles rather than opposing everything Trump does.

          And I see the Dems have finally put something on the table and are trying to look like the reasonable ones. Good. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/house-democrats-to-offer-trump-higher-border-security-spending-%E2%80%94-but-no-wall/ar-BBSDGsw?srcref=rss&ocid=OLCONUAReport

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Dark Matter says:

            If we’re all cool with Obama doing something, then claiming it’s poisonous because Trump also wants to do it means the core principle the Dems are protecting is “resist”.

            I feel either I’m not explaining this well or something: There is a pre-existing amount of spending for everything. Some level that the government was already operating at.

            This obviously changes from year to year in negotiations between the houses of Congress and the President. Often they cannot come to a decision on these changes, and until they can do so, they pass a ‘clean continuing resolution’, where levels are at the existing amounts.

            Every ‘non-single day’ shutdown before this one (Barring the weird nonsense in 1990 when the Republican House minority leader attacked the Republican president’s budget) has been due to Republicans in Congress refusing to give the Democratic President a clean continuing resolution he can sign to keep at those levels while everyone debated the new levels.

            The Democrats have never failed to send a clean continuing resolution, nor failed to sign one, regardless of their current disputes with the budget. In fact, the single-day shutdowns under Reagan were due to the Republican president being handed a spending bill with changes he didn’t like, and the Democratic House twice immediately passed spending bills without those things (Not even a continuing resolution, but the actual long-term spending bill) literally the same day for him to sign without those changes.

            The reason we got shutdowns under Democratic Presidents and not Republican ones is that Democrats don’t refuse to give opposing-party Presidents a clean CR they can sign until everything is worked out, but Republicans do occasionally refuse to do that, thus taking hostages until things are worked out.

            (This is, in a fundamental sense, because many Republican elected officials since the 90s do not feel that any position beside their own is legitimate, so occasionally feel it is reasonable to operate in any manner to get what they want. Whereas Democrats say ‘Well, we simply do not have the votes to do what we want’, or they spend a lot of time and effort cobbling those votes together.)

            I think then you could claim not yielding would be a principled stand, and you’d be picking your battles rather than opposing everything Trump does.

            It’s not a ‘principled stand’ because the Democrats don’t like the wall. It literally has nothing to do with what Trump wants at all. Trump could be threatening to keep the government closed until taxes were raised 5%, and the Republican Senate could be fighting it, and I’d argue ‘The government should not be closed during this. Everyone should pass CRs, and then we work on a budget.’

            It’s a principled stand because political arguments cannot be allowed to be won via threat of harm to the people. This, I repeat, turns the government into a giant game of chicken. And, just like a game of chicken, the least rational and most dangerous person always wins.

            If Democrats agreed to a wall because it’s not important, _that_ would be the unprincipled stand.

            You mean, what if the GOP wants something that isn’t the equiv of pocket change?

            In many ways, letting people take the country hostage because of trivial things is actually a good deal worse than for important serious policies. If it was some huge important thing, like if Obama had failed to get the ACA passed in the first two years and then in 2011 held the government hostage until it was passed, an argument could be made ‘Well, health care is really important, he wouldn’t be hostage taking for idiotic trivial reasons, so maybe we should do it just this once’. I don’t agree with that, I’m not seriously making it as an argument, I’m saying I could hypothetically see it being made.

            But having someone take hostages for pocket change, and people saying ‘Just pay them, you give people pocket change all the time, who even cares about it?’ is a _really obvious_ bad incentive. This sort of rulebreaking and hostage-taking might be sane behavior if we were limiting it to very very very important thing (Not that we could, but in theory), but can’t possibly make sense for minor things.

            The two year old in question has access to lots of things I’d rather see not broken, and we’re not going to teach Trump ethics or morality.

            Correct. We won’t teach him that. Like most two-year-olds, we’ll have to firmly say no to his idiotic demands and his threats to break shit if he doesn’t get his way, and he won’t really understand why.

            I don’t even understand your analogy. You have kids. Is this ‘The kid has accidentally picked up a sharp steak knife and is waving it around, so we have to all be very calm and offer him candy in order to get him to set it down.’ situation?

            Well, fair enough, but the actual problem is that the Republicans in Congress don’t seem to have a problem with leaving steak knives handing around (Instead of impeaching him out of the kitchen), nor do they even seem to be trying to get him to stop! And we’re going to take away the steal knives, we don’t need to incentive him to pick up steak knives by giving him a bunch of candy! We can’t just give him candy when he waves around steak knives and then leave him with the steak knives!

            And I see the Dems have finally put something on the table and are trying to look like the reasonable ones. Good.

            LOL. You seem to realize that what they are doing is just an attempt by Pelosi to ‘look like’ reasonable people by undercutting his ‘border security’ rational by offering actual border security instead of his stupid wall, so basically, you seem to be agreeing that they shouldn’t give him what he wants? But should instead make his position look dumber, like they’re doing?

            Well, yes, I agree, but only because I’m of the firm opinion that they _shouldn’t_ give him what he wants. I’m not a huge fan of having any sort of counteroffer, but this is firmly designed to undercut his dumbass rhetoric, so whatever.

            I don’t really understand your approval here, though. Why do you like this?Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to DavidTC says:

              Often they cannot come to a decision on these changes, and until they can do so, they pass a ‘clean continuing resolution’, where levels are at the existing amounts.

              This makes a certain amount of sense, but it does present us with the awkward reality that control over the WH, Senate, and House doesn’t give enough control over the gov to alter the budget. Thus the GOP controlled all three but couldn’t fund the wall. Maybe the differences are so stark that we should get rid of the filibuster and just go with majority rule.

              political arguments cannot be allowed to be won via threat of harm to the people

              LOL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXWhbUUE4ko

              Is this ‘The kid has accidentally picked up a sharp steak knife and is waving it around, so we have to all be very calm and offer him candy in order to get him to set it down.’ situation? Like most two-year olds, we’ll have to firmly say no to his idiotic demands and his threats to break shit if he doesn’t get his way, and he won’t really understand why.

              The two-year old is an 800 pound gorilla with super powers. The idiotic demands are very stupid but they’re also cheap and what he ran on. The wall came up in every champaign stop, even I expected him to do something about it.

              The other thing is in a democracy we hold elections to sort these things out. We have the dual problem that Trump isn’t rational but he was also legitimately elected and his followers are respecting the rules… and he can’t get his stupid and stupidly cheap signature item created. It should not take a super majority to fund a 5B white elephant. The situation never should have escalated this far. We can’t separate the Presidency from the President, he is always going to have knives.

              Well, fair enough, but the actual problem is that the Republicans in Congress don’t seem to have a problem with leaving steak knives handing around (Instead of impeaching him out of the kitchen), nor do they even seem to be trying to get him to stop!

              It’s unrealistic to expect the GOP to join the #Resist movement, oppose their own voters and start teasing the 2 year old.

              IMHO Trump will fall apart if he’s ever treated like a normal President. On some level I think he understands this, and that’s why he keeps trying to spin up the Dems and the media. Who then do what he wants and overreach. We end up with hitler comparisons, passive aggressively opposing everything he does, impeachment suggestions based on his sex life.

              I don’t expect Trump to be rational or a decent human being but I would like the Dems to stop enabling him.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Dark Matter says:

                LOL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXWhbUUE4ko

                Saying ‘This will cause harm if it passes’ is not the same as saying ‘Pass this law or I will harm people’.

                The other thing is in a democracy we hold elections to sort these things out.

                Yeah, we do, and the body we elected that is in charge of funding things (The House of Representatives) choose not to fund it. In fact, the _last_ group of them elected chose not to fund it, either. And they were in the same party as him!

                We have the dual problem that Trump isn’t rational but he was also legitimately elected and his followers are respecting the rules… and he can’t get his stupid and stupidly cheap signature item created.

                You seem to be operating under the idea the objection from the left is the cost. It really is weird how many on the right seem to understand that this entire stupid wall is symbolic and pointless, then turn around think the left doesn’t understand that and don’t understand why the left just won’t spend the almost trivial amounts of money.

                While ‘the cost’ might be some all-important thing for Republicans (At least when they object to something, otherwise it’s completely unimportant.), that’s not the reason the Democrats object to this specific thing. The Democrats won’t do it because, duh, it’s symbolic in the way they do not want. It’s is negative symbolic.

                Trump has stirred up pressure from the Republican base to do a completely dumb and pointless thing. This, at literally the same time and for the same reason, stirred up the Democratic base to oppose that thing.

                The amount of political discussion that concludes ‘Thus the Democrats should be the one to cave and piss off their base’ boggles my mind. The Democrats did not cause this dumbass situation, and everyone agrees the thing demanded is objectively stupid, but for some reason the Dems are supposed to take the hit from their base and do it. Mostly because, as usual, the Democrats are considered the only _responsible_ people in the room.

                Well, responsible people don’t enable small children’s hissy fits.

                It should not take a super majority to fund a 5B white elephant. The situation never should have escalated this far.

                Yeah. Duh. I know. I had a big discussion about that here, slightly more than two years, where I argued we should impeach the president before he takes office. (Although that was more about his corruption than his stupidity. I hadn’t realized how stupid he was yet.)

                We can’t separate the Presidency from the President, he is always going to have knives.

                Oh, I’m pretty sure we can separate the Presidency from the President. There’s a whole constitutional procedure to do so.

                And you have completely ignored the point I was making in that _rewarding_ the President for waving around knives seems like a really dumb plan.

                This month he wants a moronic wall, we give that to him. So the next time the budget rolls around, he, I dunno, demands the defunding of Planned Parenthood…another of his idiotic campaign promises. And because the courts won’t let him specifically single out an organization like that, someone convinces him he needs to defund all of Title X medical spending. Something which actually would extremely be harmful to low-income women that need contraceptives and breast cancer screenings and whatnot.

                And shutting down the government worked last time. He even got a nice big popularity boost when the Democrats caved and gave him his wall. So he does it again. And this time it’s a lot less symbolic. And after that…who knows?

                It’s unrealistic to expect the GOP to join the #Resist movement, oppose their own voters and start teasing the 2 year old.

                ‘Refusing to accede to the demands of’ is not the same as ‘teasing’.

                And I don’t expect ‘the GOP’ to do that. I expect most of the GOP politicians to continue to attach themselves to the President and go down with him, because they’re completely self-centered morons.

                I suspect a few will start to realize how bad this looks, and defect at some point. I was pointing out what was happening, not demanding they do things differently. Until then, I will keep repeating how bad this looks, because it damages them.

                IMHO Trump will fall apart if he’s ever treated like a normal President.

                What exactly does Trump falling apart look like? Does he make more unhinged tweets?

                Wait, wait, you’re arguing two contradictory points. You’re arguing that we need to keep him from doing stupid things, and also we should treat him like ‘normal’ so he ‘falls apart’. But if he falls apart, what’s to stop him from doing stupider things, like launching nukes? (Or, like I said, demanding stupider things?)

                But, wait, you just said he wants people to oppose him so he can fight them, which means the Democrats actually are doing what he wants by not doing what he wants, thus keeping him…calm and together?

                I have a weird idea: Perhaps instead of trying to figure out the broken thing Trump is using for a brain, we should just admit he obviously shouldn’t be in office and the fact he still is is entirely due to the Republicans, and the President will continue to harm everyone semi-randomly in unpredictable ways that it is not possible to predict in advance and we certainly can’t counter by treating him differently.

                If we all immediately swore undying loyalty to him and did whatever he wanted, he’d turn around and declare war on Mexico, so he’d have an enemy.

                What we need to do is make sure a few of the more horrible possibilities are closed off, because we’ve made it clear they won’t work. Like holding the government hostage.

                On some level I think he understands this, and that’s why he keeps trying to spin up the Dems and the media. Who then do what he wants and overreach.

                The Democrats have not, in any way, overreached. The shutdown is being correctly blamed on Trump, Mitch McConnell has finally been forced to try to do something and failed completely at it, and none of this has anything to do with the Democrats, who just keep acting like rational people saying ‘Please stop doing these extremely stupid and harmful things, you are hurting people. And no, I won’t reward you for it.’, and the public sees that.Report

      • Avatar Mr.Joe in reply to Dark Matter says:

        Dems still seem to want border security. It is only recently that the means to achieve it have been rewritten to be “wall. no other. only wall”. In discussions of border security and broader immigration lots of other things were at the top of the list. Wall the entire border was so far down the list of things that it often didn’t even get mentioned/discussed.Report

  9. Avatar Philip H says:

    Interesting idea. From the ever cheap seats as a furloughed fed . . . it doesn’t fly. In part I don’t like it because it doesn’t create any pressure on Trump or McConnell to reopen my agency. Giving Trump any sort of funding for his wall means he spins a win. And while we all know that he needs to find a facesaving way out (since admitting you screwed up has been a sin in Republican circles since Reagan sold arms to the Contras). this shouldn’t be it. In part, I don’t like it because I think the Democrats have way better messaging about government function if they don’t do it. And in part, frankly, it hurts the wrong people.

    And frankly, as long as this is out there I have no interest in helping him save face (https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/senior-trump-official-anonymous-daily-caller-op-ed-shutdown-federal-workers).Report

  10. Avatar Mr.Joe says:

    Negotiation Rule: Never be so sure of what you want that you wouldn’t take something better.

    Dems have an opportunity to stuff all the immigration reform they want into this and shove it down Trump’s throat. If they put a deal on the table with the full $5.7B for the wall, he can’t not take it, no matter how bitter the pill. The vast majority of the public won’t look to closely at the deal and just see it as “some for Trump, some for Democrats, sounds like a compromise to me”. As long as they keep the individual costs small, definitely below the $5.7B per significant part, preferably below $1B, any budget impacts will be blamed on GOP by election time. (Thanks TCJA!)

    Personally, it seems stupid to waste their partisan capital on the goal of stopping the obstruction. It will just come back in another form. Also, the joy of being Congress is that a future Congress can just undo any constraints put on in by a past one. Go get something for your constituents instead of trying fix stuff the other guy broke.Report

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