In a pretty blunt repudiation of the president’s alleged deal-making prowess, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who holds the keys to a potential Democratic filibuster of the funding measure necessary to head off a government shutdown next week, mocked Trump’s new proposed “dollar-for-dollar deal,” as Politico reports:
[OMB Director Mick] Mulvaney told Bloomberg Live on Friday that White House officials have told Democrats they’re willing to fund $1 in Obamacare subsidies for every $1 that’s provided for the border wall as both parties look to avert a government shutdown next Friday.
Schumer’s spokesperson quickly cracked wise:
Schumer’s office quickly threw cold water on the proposal, with spokesman Matt House saying Democrats thought Mexico was supposed to pay for the wall.
“The White House gambit to hold hostage health care for millions of Americans, in order to force American taxpayers to foot the bill for a wall that the president said would be paid for by Mexico is a complete non-starter,” he said. “If the administration would drop their 11th hour demand for a wall that Democrats, and a good number of Republicans, oppose, Congressional leaders could quickly reach a deal.”
Trump manufactured the latest shutdown crisis by refusing to provide assurances the administration would continue to pay Obamacare insurer subsidies pending the outcome of a House lawsuit claiming the payments are unconstitutional. His initial ransom note demanded that Democrats help him and his party enact legislation repealing and replacing Obamacare itself. After that gambit was met with crickets, Democrats counterattacked by demanding the subsidies be included in the funding bill, which would essentially take the ability to kill the subsidies and mess up health-insurance coverage for millions of people out of Trump’s hands.
Hence, the switch by Mulvaney to a somewhat smaller ransom — money for the wall. But that’s not working either.
And that’s where Trump really stepped in his own campaign demagoguery by promising to get the border wall funded by Mexico. American taxpayers who don’t support the project will be appalled by the idea, as will those who do support it but figured the bill would not wind up on their tables. As Schumer understands, releasing the Obamacare hostage for a year in exchange for that bait and switch is a nonstarter indeed, and not just for Democrats. In fact, it’s a laugher.