On September 6, at a meeting in the Oval Office with both the Democratic and Republican legislative leadership, President Donald Trump came on board a debt-ceiling bandwagon driven by Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Senate Minority Leader.
The top Capitol Hill Republicans, including Schumer’s Republican counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, were pressing for a debt limit hike that would last 18 months and that would be tied to aid to the areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey.
The Democratic leadership agreed to the Hurricane Harvey tie, but it advocated a very short (three month) extension. That will make the next extension part of a huge end-of-year crush of must-act legislative items. After what seems to have been a fairly brief discussion, the President simply agreed to this.
Jim Newall wrote in Slate in the early evening Wednesday that the result of that meeting wasn’t really a “deal” in the usual sense of that term. A deal implies give and take. President Trump simply accepted “to the letter, the request that Democrats had made and that Ryan and the leadership team had decried as an affront to God immediately after.”
Right Wing View
The conservative media were already in arms against this three-month expiration date, on the evening the ‘deal’ was announced. Brietbart, over an article by Charlie Spiering, headlined that this was a presidential “punt.”
Similarly, the National Review Online ran with the headline, “I Liked it Better When Chuck Schumer was a Clown.” Apparently, he’s no longer the sort of clown one finds in a circus. He is now more akin to the clowns one finds in Stephen King novels.
Susan Wright, at RedState, expressed the reaction of #NeverTrump conservatism at this moment. She wrote, “Those of us that knew there’s not even a passing resemblance between Trump and the traditional Republican platform weren’t that surprised, at all.”
Wright also highlighted a tweet by Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE), who wrote simply, “The Pelosi-Schumer-Trump deal is bad.” The use of that hyphenated expression, to describe the idea of kicking the debt forward just three months, immediately caught on. If there is any elected representative for whom the Republican punditocracy has a lower opinion even than Sen. Schumer, it is probably the former Speaker of the House, now House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi (D – CA), and she too seems to have played an important part in the Oval Office meeting.
But Trump’s loyalists remain … Trump’s loyalists. One of them, Kambree Kawahine Koa tweets, “President Trump knows how to spend money and make money. If the Pelosi-Schumer-Trump plan is better for the USA than what the GOP proposes, DO IT!”
Left Wing View
Leftward researchers have long since learned that the President’s twitter accounts, including that from his pre-presidential years, even his pre-candidacy years, can yield valuable polemical ammunition. Such researchers soon discovered that back in January 2013, a certain prominent real estate developer had written, “The worst negotiators in history (otherwise known as Republicans) have just offered to suspend debt ceiling for four months. Pathetic!”
It does seem odd that Trump is now accepting a deal that is shorter, and so by his own professed standard worse, than a deal he once denounced as pathetic.
More generally, the left is delighted by confusion within Republican ranks, and expects that this development increases the level of such confusion. For example, the Wall Street Journal rather derisively called the Republican legislative leadership “the gang that can’t even shoot at each other straight,” and Charlie Gasparino tweeted a link to the WSJ editorial adding a single sentence, “read it and weep.”
Gasparino works at Fox Business nowadays, but his own political orientation isn’t as rightward as that may suggest: he still carries the aura of his CNBC past with him. The “weeping” about which he tweeted is likely not his own.
In Vox, Andrew Prokop wrote, the quick return of the debt ceiling in December “would have several consequences that are expected to help Democrats and hurt Republicans.” In particular, it deprives the Republican leadership of the breathing room they want to move on to such complicated matters as tax reform.
Much of the left’s response might be summed up this way: The self-described great deal-maker in the White House simply caves when challenged: that’s a useful fact to know and store away.
The Price of Gold
The price of gold fell on the news of a deal, because gold is a safe haven investment, especially since the other great safe haven, U.S. Treasury bonds, is precisely what a protracted dispute over a debt ceiling would threaten. Even with just a three-month deal, the need for a safe haven from a threat to the other safe haven has receded a bit.