Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag:

Danziger: Feeling Their Pain

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.

Who Blinked In The Shutdown Game? It Doesn’t Matter

By Groundhog Day, the government shutdown will have been largely forgotten. That’s a guarantee.

As memory of that long weekend fades, the matter of whether Democrats won, lost or tied in the deal to reopen the federal government will be of little consequence — at least to those of us who have lives.

But the shutdown did highlight three realities for Democrats going forward.

Reality No. 1: It’s not quite true that Republicans control both houses of Congress.

Republicans do have considerable power in the House, where they can pass legislation without any Democratic votes. But they don’t have a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority in the Senate, needed to pass legislation without Democratic support in that chamber.

The truth is Democrats did have the power to shut down the government. Also acknowledge that a handful of Republicans who bucked their party’s leadership helped them.

Reality No. 2: Obtaining legal status for the so-called dreamers — immigrants brought to this country illegally as children — is a good cause. Closing the government over them is bad politics. That the dreamers were not threatened with imminent deportation made this hardball seem less warranted.

The reality is that once Republicans agreed to fund the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years, there was less urgent need to take the radical step of a shutdown. Yes, it’s hard to find a more sympathetic group — young people who are, for all intents and purposes, American. Yes, they’ve been cruelly tossed about by Donald Trump’s mood swings.

But Democrats ended up with a tough rationale for closing the government — that is, protecting people at no immediate risk of being sent away. That’s why Democrats were wise to pack it in.

Reality No. 3: The activist left isn’t totally on board for winning elections. Its more vocal spokespeople exploded at Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for ending the shutdown without a definitive dreamer fix. They get to keep their jobs whether Democrats get elected or not. And if militant fist-waving unsettles large parts of the electorate, not their problem.

Some on the hard left argue that if the party leaders were more like them, Democrats would be winning big. The reality is radical-left candidates rarely win elections. They usually don’t even win Democratic primaries.

By the way, the spokespeople don’t own the women who recently marched in great numbers. The women were united in expressing opposition to Trump and congressional Republicans. In terms of issues, that covers a lot of territory. These women are indeed a massive political force, and the bigger their tent the stronger they’ll be.

(There’s no little irony that presidential prospects courting the Bernie Sanders base have made the shutdown a key issue. Sanders himself is quite direct on the need to protect American workers from poorly controlled immigration. Sanders’ ditching of the identity agenda for the labor agenda helps explain why many working-class Trump voters had previously supported him in the Democratic primaries.)

Splice all three realities into one feature-length picture and you can see the Democrats’ challenge. To gain real power, they have to retain or capture Democratic seats in Missouri, North Dakota, Indiana and other states with electorates highly wary of illegal immigration.

“Our major issues,” said former Sen. Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, “are jobs, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, Social Security, infrastructure, supporting domestic programs, clean air, safe drinking water.”

The shutdown did produce one significant success. It helped solidify a group of moderate Democrats and Republicans who now vow to buck their all-politics-all-the-time leadership and work to solve problems. That’s good news for everyone, dreamers included.

As for who blinked in the game of shutdown chicken, forget about it — if you already haven’t.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Schumer Didn’t ‘Sell Out’ — He Folded A Bad Hand To Play Again

If the recent brief government shutdown accomplished nothing else, it sent Donald Trump into hiding for three days, no small blessing.
 Somebody convinced him that golfing in Florida would look bad, and his minders didn’t trust him to do any actual negotiating, so the president holed up in the White House watching TV and yakking on the phone. Incidentally, can’t Melania do something about his low-rent habit of wearing a hat in the house? Assuming that she’s even talking to the big dope in the wake of this porn-star payoff business.
 Anyway, if I want to see a countdown clock in the corner of the screen, I’ll watch a ballgame. The TV news networks’ turning congressional politics into ratings-building melodrama, complete with good guys, bad guys, and manufactured suspense, definitely ain’t helping. It rewards dogmatism over pragmatism, reducing complex issues to a simple game with clear-cut winners and losers.
 That’s what the NFL playoffs are for. But it’s basically the opposite of what the Founders intended the US Senate to be. Sure, Election Day can be exciting, but the shutdown drama was just bad TV.  Cable news channels devoted last weekend to showing politicians milling about in Senate chambers waiting for something to happen.
 Evidently nothing of interest was taking place anywhere else in the world. Observing the spectacle, it easy to agree with Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA): “Our country was founded by geniuses, but it’s being run by idiots,” he said.
As a Republican, Kennedy probably didn’t mean to say that the head idiots are named Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. But the GOP does control the White House and both houses of Congress. And it’s important to understand how those worthies connived to tempt Democrats into picking a fight they couldn’t possibly win—pretty much as the party’s embittered left-wing now insists minority leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) should have done.
New York Times columnist Michele Goldberg led the charge. “’Make no mistake: Schumer and Dems caved,’ tweeted Fox News’s Brit Hume. ‘What a political fiasco.’ It makes me sick to say it,” Goldberg wrote, “but he’s right.”
Goldberg also quoted one Ezra Levin, identified as the co-founder of a left-wing advocacy group modeled on the Tea Party. “It’s Senator Schumer’s job as minority leader to keep his caucus together and stand up for progressive values and he failed to do it,” Levin said. “He led them off a cliff. They caved.”
But probably because I spend more time watching ballgames than MSNBC, I tend to see things differently. See, there’s no such thing as a six-run home run. You can’t throw a Hail Mary pass for a 21-point touchdown. Poker players understand that when you’re holding a pair of sixes, it’s time to fold and play another hand. Which is basically what Schumer did.
Did shutting down the US government in 1995 help Newt Gingrich prevail in a budget struggle against President Clinton? It did not, and it led to Clinton’s easy re-election. Did Republicans shutting down the government in 2013 lead President Obama to ditch the Affordable Care Act? No. What’s more, for all its huffing and puffing, the GOP still hasn’t been able to kill the law.
Schumer simply didn’t have the votes to make anything happen.
Meanwhile, the top trending hashtag pushed by Russian bots on Twitter was “#SchumerShutdown.” Trump’s Kremlin supporters, see, have a strong interest in promoting ethnic and racial discord in the US. They hope to use the DACA or “Dreamers” issue to divide and weaken the country. So do hardline anti-immigrant Republicans, such as White House aide Stephen Miller and a minority of GOP hotheads in the House.
But they haven’t got the votes either. Not even close. Indeed, even the most recent Fox News poll shows 83 percent of Americans support granting permanent resident status to the “Dreamers”—young workers, students, and soldiers—brought to the US illegally by their parents as small children.
Would even Trump be willing to start deporting these young Americans to countries they’ve never known starting in March?  It’s hard to imagine. Indeed, compromise DACA legislation passed the Senate in 2013, and will almost surely pass again unless Senate Majority Leader McConnell goes back on his word in the glare of the spotlight that Schumer’s compromise has put him in.  
If McConnell does renege, Democrats could always vote for another shutdown until he relents.
 Senate passage would then put Speaker Ryan in a box. Very likely a bipartisan House majority would also support DACA—that is, if the Speaker lets them vote contrary to the “Hastert Rule,” ironically named for the famous GOP child molester and champion of one-party government.
Ryan wouldn’t allow it in 2013, but again thanks to Schumer’s compromise, the GOP now owns the issue.
 As for the president who would have to sign it, which one? Will he be the deal maker or “Sh**hole Don?”    

Trump Budget Chief Can’t Explain Why GOP Blocked Military Pay During Shutdown

Republicans have been backed into a corner for blocking military pay, and they have no good answers for why they’re harming the troops through their political gamesmanship.
Donald Trump’s budget chief Mick Mulvaney had no real answer when asked why the White House and Republican Party are blocking service members’ pay and benefits during the GOP-engineered shutdown of the federal government.

Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill introduced a resolution to ensure that military personnel continue to receive their pay during the shutdown, as President Obama had done during the Republican-led shutdown in 2013.

But that lie was exposed on Sunday morning when Mulvaney was confronted by Face the Nation host John Dickerson about comments he made during the 2013 shutdown, in which Mulvaney pointed out that “our troops are still being paid.”

“I have a much greater understanding of a shutdown now that I’m the O.M.B. director,” Mulvaney insisted, but then falsely implied that military pay was deferred in 2013, as it will likely be this time around.

But Dickerson wasn’t dissuaded. “Claire McCaskill … brought up a vote to pay them while the shutdown was going on,” Dickerson said, adding “That vote — Mitch McConnell didn’t bring that up for vote.”

“Why wouldn’t the White House, the executive branch, do everything they can to take care of the troops while this is being adjudicated?” Dickerson asked.

Mulvaney first tried to dodge the question by vaguely referring to other unrelated resolutions that were proposed Friday night into Saturday morning, but finally chalked the blocking of military pay by Republicans to “the sort of the dynamic flow in the Senate.”

Unfortunately, our troops can’t pay their bills with Mulvaney’s excuses.

All day long on Sunday, Trump officials like Mulvaney tried to escape the consequences of their shutdown, and time and again, those efforts were met with failure.

Hopefully, that failure will lead them to end this shutdown quickly, and stop holding Americans hostage to their destructive agenda.