I’ve been drawing attention to this since the transition.
The GOP has skillfully used Trump to rubber stamp its own agenda while icing everything he ran on in the primary that made him different and won him the nomination. The refusal of the GOP Congress for two years to make any effort to fund the border wall is only the most obvious example:
“Donald Trump has a Congress problem. He can’t get Republicans to promote his policies. And when he forces the issue — as with his border wall — he can’t win their support.
But most Americans don’t know that. After all, Republican legislators voted with the president well over 90 percent of the time during the 115th Congress. Record numbers of appellate judges were confirmed, and the president signed major tax legislation. Many observers have concluded that Mr. Trump dominates the Republican Party, and his loyal base holds congressional Republicans tautly in line.
But discerning legislative influence is more difficult than it appears. Throughout the first two years of the Trump presidency, Republican leaders in Congress skillfully used a variety of tactics to minimize the president’s influence and maximize their own control over public policy. …
Nevertheless, congressional Republicans have found a solution to this challenge: agenda-setting. Political power is not simply the ability to influence the positions citizens or lawmakers take on issues, but also the ability to control what issues are discussed and voted on.
Throughout the last Congress, Republican leaders simply declined to take up legislation that reflected the priority of the president but not their own. There were no votes on immigration restrictions or funding for a border wall, protectionist trade legislation or infrastructure. …
Such “negative” agenda-setting leaves little trace; without a vote, it becomes difficult for opponents or voters to identify or understand what happened. President Trump’s priorities weren’t voted down in the House or the Senate; they were just never considered.
Agenda-setting also provides congressional leaders “positive” power to set legislative priorities. Mr. Trump has famously shown little interest in the details of policy, and Republican leaders in Washington easily convinced him to accept as his priorities the party’s orthodox issues of Affordable Care Act repeal and tax cuts during his first year in office.
By setting the agenda and having the president sign on, Republican legislators controlled policy while sharing the position of the president. When Republicans held a White House celebration after passing tax legislation, Mr. Trump claimed credit, and legislators publicly praised the “Trump” tax bill, and the president himself. …”
How should we respond to this?
It is obvious they have used Trump to get their tax cuts and huge military budgets. They immediately went to work to transform renegotiating NAFTA into reviving TPP. They used to him to get criminal justice reform and now to overthrow the government of Venezuela.
The Trump administration has been and continues to be nothing but the same old mainstream conservatism that John McCain and Mitt Romney ran on in 2008 and 2012 and the other candidates ran on in 2016. The only difference is that Trump rhetorically ran on a different agenda. The Trump presidency has been everything that Jeb! or Marco Rubio supported:
New H-1B rules would result in up to 5,340 more immigrants with a master’s degree or higher getting selected for a visa. A good change in policy. https://t.co/9gVT8cEOKH
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) February 1, 2019
Marco Rubio’s Twitter feed is nothing but advocating intervention in Venezuela:
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 2, 2019
And rank & file soldiers & police officers do not keep food & medicine from reaching your suffering families & neighbors by following illegitimate orders. https://t.co/dM5hgmJuvP
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 3, 2019
So basically Maduro’s idea is that he gets to serve a full term as the illegitimate President, but the legitimate & democratically elected National Assembly has early elections? And in a country where Maduro controls the media & his loyalists get to count the votes? https://t.co/5SuwFvI7Ih
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 3, 2019
Ted Cruz’s Twitter feed is just virtue signaling about “racism”:
Media fixation w/ blackface (“was he dressed as Michael Jackson?”) obscures the more damning point: anybody who voluntarily chooses to celebrate the evil & bigoted KKK is unfit for public office. Media should be asking: did you select that picture to represent what you believe?
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 2, 2019
The 2016 election was supposed to be a “change” election, but policywise nothing has changed:
I completely support the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty due to Russian noncompliance.
Russia has been in violation of the treaty for years and the Obama Administration refused to do anything about it. https://t.co/dT1zlUEk1o
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) February 1, 2019
Trump is a weak, marginalized president whose unique policy agenda was utterly stymied by the GOP Congress. He has given them victory after victory though. That’s going to be the question of the 2020 election. Will the populist nationalist coalition that elected Trump in 2016 turn out to reelect him on the basis of the conservative policy agenda that it rejected?