Donald Trump is demanding that the American people fund the “wall” with Mexico, or he may shut down the entire government and cut off Obamacare payments for poor Americans’ health coverage.
In other words, Trump is threatening to hold the American people hostage unless we let him break a major campaign promise.
I’d reported previously on Trump’s threat to cut off the Affordable Care Act payments for poor Americans’ health care. Well, it seems that holding sick American as human shields didn’t work very well for Trump, so now he’s holding the entire country hostage.
Trump, as you know, had repeatedly promised during the campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall. Everyone knew that Mexico would never pay for the wall, but it was a convenient Trump lie, among so many, to get around the budget implications of building something so enormous. Then, after the election, Trump started to change his tune, claiming that Mexico would reimburse the American people for the wall. In other words, we were paying for it, and maybe later at some point Mexico might pay for it. That’s called bait-and-switch — you lure someone in with a promise, only to change it at the last minute.
And now, the only way Trump believes he can get the American people to pay for his broken campaign pledge is holding poor people hostage and shutting down the entire government.
Trump is a conundrum. He’s not very bright, and clearly doesn’t understand politics. But he did win the election, albeit with some help from the Russians and FBI Director Jim Comey. So, as much as we mock him, Trump shouldn’t be written off entirely — he did make it to the White House. Still, threatening a government shutdown is way out of Trump’s political league. As Trump showed during the first ACA repeal effort — having Bannon order GOP members of Congress to support Trump’s bill, as if that would do it — while his populist instincts are well honed, he still doesn’t get the politics of legislating and governing. Trump doesn’t know how to make Washington work for him. And taking on a government shutdown, when Trump is still operating with training wheels, is a recipe for disaster.
Finally, this also shows the degree to which Trump doesn’t care about the substance of any issue. He cares about himself, and his public perception. Trump is worried that his First 100 days is stacking up to be a bust. Other than Gorsuch, what has Trump really accomplished? The Muslim ban has been blocked repeatedly by the courts, the wall remains unfunded, the ACA repeal is going nowhere, and much of the government remains unstaffed because, for whatever reason, Team Trump can’t get its act together.
So Trump needs a win. And he doesn’t care about the details. Anything will suffice, regardless of whether it complements, or even contradicts, what he promised during the campaign, and regardless of who it hurts. What’s good for Trump Inc. is good for America.