Choreographed cover-up

That was some fun yesterday, what with the Very Stable Genius seemingly coming unglued over Nancy Pelosi pointing a finger at his attempts at a cover-up. The VSG ranted at Schumer and Pelosi in the White House before turning on his heels and haughtily walking out. Then he babbled incoherently for 15 minutes at an “impromptu” press conference in the Rose Garden. It was a live action Tweet rant.

The media, of course, loves this kind of dramatic action.

I think it was all a setup, a classic Trump made-for-TV production. And it wasn’t because of the cover-up allegation.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the big “bipartisan” infrastructure proposal that Trump loudly backed less than a month ago. In particular, the meeting was supposed to focus on Republican proposals for how to pay for the big bipartisan infrastructure deal. That was the problem. There are no pay-for proposals because Congressional Republicans don’t actually support the idea of a big bipartisan infrastructure deal.

Hence, the meeting had to be blown up.

At the first infrastructure meeting back in late April, it was actually Trump who came up with the $2 trillion price tag. The Democrats had been suggesting numbers over a trillion dollars and Trump decided to just round up to an even number. “Two trillion,” Trump said at that meeting. “Two trillion. That number you can talk about.”

He also said, “I would like to do something. It may not be typically Republican.” A rare instance of Trumpian understatement.

Yesterday’s meeting was scheduled at the April meeting and Republican pay-fors were set as the topic of discussion.

Democratic lawmakers do not intend to propose their own funding plan and say they expect to hear funding ideas from Trump that he and the Senate can support, according to a senior Democratic aide who was in the room… Dems, Trump pull $2T surprise on infrastructure, The Hill, 4/30/19

Of course the Dems would want to know how Trump imagined he could get his party behind a massive spending bill. Republicans don’t do big spending unless it’s directed to the Pentagon. This is the party that rejected almost all stimulus spending while in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Republican leadership figures were clear in the wake of the $2 trillion announcement that they were opposed.

GOP lawmakers say the president’s grand proposal for a $2 trillion deal is too ambitious and warn that they will oppose any measure that adds to the deficit.

Many Republicans also say they are against raising taxes to pay for an infrastructure initiative, a stance that would make it extremely difficult to find money to finance a package even half the size of Trump’s desired amount.

“If we’re going to do infrastructure, I think we ought to pay for it. I don’t think we ought to put it on the debt,” said Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate GOP leader. Trump’s pursuit of infrastructure deal hits GOP roadblock, The Hill, 5/3/19

This from the party that blew up the debt with their enormous tax cuts for the rich. Now that is typically Republican.

So Trump was headed into yesterday’s meeting knowing that the only support he had for his big, beautiful plan came from his opponents. That would not play well with his beloved base.

He tried one last ploy to scuttle the meeting by sending a letter to the Democrats the night before. In it, he changed the rules, no doubt in the hope that Nancy and Chuck would boycott the meeting in response. Now he wanted his new NAFTA deal approved by Congress before starting in on infrastructure. Oh, and the Democrats should show up with a full blown plan.

Before we get to infrastructure, it is my strong view that Congress should first pass the important and popular USMCA trade deal. Once Congress has passed USMCA, we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package.”

It would be helpful if you came to tomorrow’s meeting with your infrastructure priorities and specifics regarding how much funding you would dedicate to each. Your caucus has expressed a wide-range of priorities, and it is unclear which ones have your support.

Nancy and Chuck didn’t bite and so we ended up with the carnival sideshow instead. During the Rant in the Rose Garden, Trump blasted away at all the Congressional investigations going on right now. “The i-word — can you imagine?” he fumed. He was not referring to infrastructure.

Trump’s tantrum gave him a way to blame the Democrats for sinking any grand infrastructure deal before it became clear to all that it was his own party’s refusal to fix our bridges and roads and water systems that was at fault.

In other words, it was a cover-up.


Image credit: Ed Berg  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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