The $1.3 trillion federal budget deal reads like it could have been written by President Barack Obama. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the spending is like a liberal fantasy. What happened? The art-of-the-deal president got rolled.
Deep down in Trumpland, a sense of unease, even betrayal, is beginning to creep in.
“He caved, plain and simple. I guess I voted for a Democrat and I was duped,” lamented a commenter Friday on the “Washington State for Donald Trump” Facebook page.
I check in on this site periodically, because with 180,000 followers it’s the largest repository for local Make America Great Again thinking on the web.
And while the Trump train has seemed to me to be mostly derailing of late, the site has remained steadfastly on board. It labored hard to stay in line Friday, but for the first time I can recall, some were having major doubts.
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“Sold us out,” one MAGA supporter bemoaned, referring to how the president had hinted that a battle royale budget veto might be coming, but then capitulated and signed the mammoth $1.3 trillion deal.
“He slap me in the face,” wrote another. Kvetched a third: “So much for the art of the deal.”
Ouch. I have no idea whether Trump’s legendary “base” is beginning to crack — I would guess probably not. But his decision Friday to sign a budget that he admitted he hadn’t read and that is liberal enough it could have been written by Barack Obama all seemed to cast an unusual pall.
“We just lost the election,” summed up another commenter.
It’s just a budget, so that seems overblown. But given that Republicans control the federal government, it is remarkable how this budget contains virtually none of the priorities Trump outlined a year ago when he offered his first spending blueprint. The biggest headline example is that there was no funding in it for a tangible wall on the Mexico border (wasn’t that supposed to be paid for by Mexico anyway?).
Around here in the Pacific Northwest, a year’s worth of predictions of budget doom instead turned out like a liberal fantasy.
Trump proposed zeroing out grants to light rail; instead, the grants were increased. Trump said he would slash Puget Sound restoration money by 93 percent; instead, Sound cleanup got its full $28 million.
Trump proposed no money for West Coast salmon restoration; instead, salmon got $65 million.
Parkland purchases, climate-change research, green-energy projects — all were slated for major cuts or elimination. Instead, all got boosted. For the Northwest’s biggest line item, Hanford, Trump wanted to slash cleanup funding by $100 million; instead, local lawmakers got it raised by $100 million.
Planned Parenthood? Funded. National Endowment for the Arts? Funded. Even sanctuary cities like Seattle were, in the end, protected from any budget cuts.
“So I’ve watched the politicians,” Trump boasted when he was first running for president. “I’ve dealt with them all my life. If you can’t make a good deal with a politician, then there’s something wrong with you. You’re certainly not very good.”
Hmm. Trump called this budget deal “ridiculous” and “crazy.” Then he signed it. So who’s not very good?
Personally I’m mostly OK with these spending priorities. The problem is the gigantic annual deficits, which are projected to rise past $1 trillion again this year. Those were made far worse by the tax cuts the GOP passed last year.
That a GOP Congress and president are about to run record deficits while the economy is booming is the height of hypocrisy, as well as terrible fiscal policy. Tea partyers ought to be marching in the streets.
That’s not happening, but it does appear to be dawning on some that Trump’s famed deal-making is more of a con than an art. The president plays a brash-talking businessman. He promises the wall and threatens the veto. But even some of his natural constituency is starting to see it as phony bravado.
The conservative site the Drudge Report site blistered him Friday with this headline: “Fake Veto.”
Politically, then, this budget deal may turn out to be a big moment. Because what happened this week is the president got rolled, hard, including by his own party.
After reeling from the trash-talking chaos for more than a year, the sharks of Capitol Hill seem to have concluded that underneath it all is something oh so familiar: an easy mark.