Sunday Political Brunch: The Art of the Deal—September 10, 2017

Sunday, September 10, 2017
Mark Curtis, GoLocalProv Contributor

Mark Curtis
It’s been a fascinating week of twists and turns in the political world, as the winds of hurricanes breathe down the backs of the United States. President Trump took some surprising turns in the week that was, and they’re generating a lot of buzz. Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“The DACA Two-Step” – To many it was the ultimate in contradictions. First, President Trump gave a six-month warning to the end of the policy known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). It protected thousands of children from deportation, who were brought to the United States illegally by parents or others They are the children of the so-called “Dream Act,” many of whom were infants or young children who had no idea they were being brought into this nation unlawfully. Many have become well-educated workers who prospered into adulthood, and pose no threat. The President indicated they might be able to stay after all, if Congress passes a law to legalize their status.

“The Art of the Deal” – That’s the name of the President’s best-selling book from the 1980s that launched him into national prominence. Yes, the book was about real estate, but some of those same principals can be used in politics, too. As far as DACA, the President gave a clear indication its principles could survive if codified into law by Congress. Allowing a path to citizenship for “The Dreamers” has wide-bipartisan support. By moving the policy from an Obama-era Executive Order, into the law of the land would be a big political and psychological victory for the Trump White House. The President has had very few Congressional wins; so, this would be huge and make him look like an accomplished political deal maker.

“The Immigration Realities” – Months ago, I suggested in this very column that the President would be wise to break up immigration reform into eight or nine smaller, separate bills. There’s no way Congress will pass a massive, all-encompassing immigration reform bill. The last time it did that was 1986, and the results have been less than impressive. Look, President Trump was elected – by and large – on the strength of his anti-illegal immigration proposals. This is his signature issue. But his most famous idea – building a huge wall on the Mexican border – would be a poison pill in an overall, omnibus immigration bill. So, like he Dream Act, it would be best to handle each immigration issue as a separate piece of legislation.

“The Other Side of the Coin” – The other big issue in Washington, D.C., this week was about raising the national debt ceiling and avoiding a federal government shutdown. At first blush, this has nothing to do with the illegal immigration issue, but in political reality the two issues are intertwined, and here’s why. President Trump needs some legislative wins. So far, this White House has ruled by Executive Order and court wins. He needs to show he can get bills through Congress and these are two good opportunities. Plus, these two issues are widely supported by Democrats and the President needs to show he can truly govern with bipartisan support at times.

“The Politics of Disaster” – Raising the federal debt ceiling was tied to providing eight billion dollars in federal disaster aid to Hurricane Harvey-ravaged Texas. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have long ago learned lessons about botching disaster assistance, i.e., Hurricane Katrina. The fact the President Trump sided with the Democrats plan for debt-ceiling and disaster recovery is telling. Look, details such as raising the debt ceiling for three months versus six months is political minutiae that the average person doesn’t care about. They just want action. The other part of it is that President Trump needs to demonstrate he can work with Democrats, and this – and the possible final DACA vote – could show just that.

“The Echo Chamber” – A few weeks ago, I wrote about a rising star of the Trump White House, that being U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley I suggested she is the next Secretary of State and possibly the first female U.S. President. I said at the time, “You heard it here first!” Well, this week CNN printed a similar analysis of where the Haley political trajectory may be headed. Right now, she is the hottest star and steadiest voice of the otherwise controversial Trump White House.

“The Shutdown Showdown” – President Trump’s agreement to side with the Democrats on the debt ceiling (and to keep the government open) is wise for another tactical reason. The last three government shutdowns occurred when Republicans controlled Congress, but a Democrat was in the White House. In those cases, Republicans took the lion’s share of the blame because - after all - there are 535 members of Congress, but only one President. Now with Republicans in charge of the Senate, House, and White House, there was no way the party could lay the blame on a badly weakened Democratic Party. Trump knows cutting a deal with the opposing party, helps prevent blame on his own party. Talk about the art of the deal!

Are the DACA and debt ceiling votes a turning of the tide in the Trump White House? Just click the comment but and leave your opinions at

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is a nationally known political author and analyst based in Charleston, WV. His political coverage is featured daily on WOWK-TV13 Charleston-Huntington; WTRF-TV7 Wheeling; WBOY-TV12 Clarksburg; WVNS-TV59 Beckley; and WDVM-TV25 Martinsburg-Hagerstown.

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