What Trump is doing to Congress (or not)

(AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)

(AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)

Donald Trump’s political rise was still new when members of Congress broke for their August recess. They have made the rounds in their districts and states as pollsters have found Trump and other anti-establishment candidates capturing a rough majority of GOP primary voters.

I saw several members during their recess, and I asked if they think this development — as well as Sen. Bernie Sanders’ success with Democrats — would spark any changes on Capitol Hill in the weeks and months to come.

“I’m hopeful that that message is getting in there,” said first-year Sen. David Perdue. “That was the message I heard (as) I was running: People are upset. And we see it now in the presidential election, it’s resonating. … If you listen to people, they’ll tell you very straight: They’re hurting, there are fewer people working, as a percentage, since the late ’70s, and they’re looking for solutions.

“I hope we get together and do some things in a nonpartisan way,” he continued. “Not bipartisan, but nonpartisan. I think the Iran deal should be evaluated in a nonpartisan way. I think the trade issue should be a nonpartisan issue. I’m hopeful that we will get past this partisanship up there. But I’m also a realist …. we’ve seen how that hasn’t happened in the past.”

Rep. Tom Price said the system isn’t working the way it’s supposed to work, and not only because of partisanship.

“I think one of the things that has resulted in the kind of angst and anger out there is the fact that, in almost everybody’s lifetime, this is the weakest the (legislative) branch of our federal government has ever been,” Price said.

Congress was designed to be the strongest of the three branches of government. But Price said it has lost power to the other two, rather than merely being checked by them.

“For a variety of reasons, but through both Republican and Democratic administrations, we’ve seen an increase in executive-branch authority and usurpation of authority — never more so than in the past 6.5 years, from our perspective,” he said, referring of course to Barack Obama’s presidency. “This president has acted in an extralegal way many times, and clearly with a regulatory oppression that has become stock and trade for his administration, they are assuming much of the policymaking role for the country.

“In addition to that, you have a court system and a judiciary that have expanded their aggressiveness in the area of policy, so it’s no longer courts saying this is legal or not legal, or this is constitutional or not constitutional, it’s ‘This is not constitutional, and this is what you must do.’ So the legislative branch is as impotent as it’s been, and the frustration of the people is appropriate and real because the folks that are closest to them in our system of government are now as weak as they’ve ever been.”

All of which raises a thought to keep in mind if you’re drawn to the anti-establishment types:

Are you getting behind someone who aims to put the system back in balance, especially in how it works but also in terms of partisanship? Or are you going for someone who’ll throw it further out of whack, only in a direction you like better?

Reader Comments 0

59 comments
Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

Looks like Don is the R.  I'm with him in the primary.

straker
straker

M H Smith - "repeal that Obamacare"


Every Republican who ran for election and re-election to the House and Senate in the last election pledged to abolish Obamacare.


They haven't done it yet.


However, this seems to bother their electorate not one bit.


Short-term memory loss?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@straker It isnt going anywhere after Obama leaves office either.


Not a chance now. That ship has sailed. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@LilBarryBailout @Hedley_Lammar @straker In a sense no you cant


And I for one would rather subsidize poor peoples care ( I'm betting Jesus would too ) especially in a country as wealthy as this one,  instead of treating them at ER's or in some other incredibly inefficient way.


But hey thats me. 

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@straker It bothers me and an apparently most of the GOP base.  We have risen up and booted most if not all of the Dems who voted for this Obamacare travesty, and have as you point out, elected new Senators and Congressman to take their place.  As you said, they don't have the courage to do the only thing available to them, defund it.  


That is the only thing I admire about Obama is his relentlessness, we have never seen anything like that before in America.  He loses two landslide elections, loses both Houses of Congress, his signature program is very unpopular, and yet he doesn't waiver one bit.  Clinton pulled back in face of the voters anger, Dubyah did as well.  Obama ignores the voters and presses on with his socialistic big government policies.  Until we get someone to lead the GOP out of the wilderness and quit being afraid of their own shadow, nothing is going to change.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@GeorgiaRedNeck The claim is more about the nature of the executive acts, not the number of them. For example, I don't recall people objecting to the executive order about classifying information that I mentioned in yesterday's post. But the immigration ones, among others? A different story.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@Kyle_Wingfield @GeorgiaRedNeck Easy fix - pass legislation that a majority are on board with but the TP won't allow because it'd mean another victory for the black guy in the white house.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Eye wonder And what's your evidence that House Republicans' opposition to this is about denying "another victory for the black guy in the white house"?

As opposed to, say, the opposition that also sunk similar legislation when Bush was president?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Kyle_Wingfield @GeorgiaRedNeck The claim is more about the nature of the executive acts, not the number of them.


And why is that


Because that moves it to a place where we can get subjective. 

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@GeorgiaRedNeck I don't remember any other President saying 21 times that he didn't have the authority to grant Amnesty or he would, then 6 years later saying, what the heck, I will do it anyway.

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

Trump is the GOP of today, talk but nothing else.

M H Smith
M H Smith

Like these Republicans in your article aren't partisan, Kyle? Yeah, I know you did say it, the partisans Purdue and Price did. They are part of the problem and next to nothing of the nonpartisan solution. Repeal that OBAMACARE! One they have done it and they can't do it but if they do watch and see the PARTISAN garbage they replace it with - something the dogs drug-up even the cats would cover.  


Elect about a third populist to Congress. Then these hardliner PARTY PARTISANS will have to act in nonpartisan ways. 

OOPs, I forgot the party-line loyalty pledge that probably stipulates a pledge to no independent actions.    

GeorgiaRedNeck
GeorgiaRedNeck

@M H Smith Remember Obama Care was devised by the Heritage Foundation 25-30 years ago. It's not a Democrat or Obama baby.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@GeorgiaRedNeck Ahem: By one guy at Heritage. It was later disavowed. Its widespread support is a figment of liberals' imaginations.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Kyle_Wingfield @GeorgiaRedNeck  By one guy at Heritage.


And folks like Romney and Newt praised it


  • "We agree entirely with Governor Romney and Massachusetts legislators that our goal should be 100% insurance coverage for all Americans. Individuals without coverage often do not receive quality medical attention on par with those who do have insurance. We also believe strongly that personal responsibility is vital to creating a 21st Century Intelligent Health System. Individuals who can afford to purchase health insurance and simply choose not to place an unnecessary burden on a system that is on the verge of collapse; these free-riders undermine the entire health system by placing the onus of responsibility on taxpayers.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/12/newt-gingrich-celebrated-romneycare-in-2006/250531/


The lone nut theory doesn't fly. 

M H Smith
M H Smith

@GeorgiaRedNeck @M H Smith 

I know where the ideas of Obamacare came from, including the entire social safety net as it is called in this country or wrongly called the entitlements - laugh, how can something you pay for be an entitlement? 


Otto von Bismarck who was a big free trade kook until the free trade economy took a nose dive in Germany. Which made him  move toward the center economically by passing (his) Germany's social insurance program in order to stop the socialist from taking the German economy further to the socialist left than a capitalism could tolerate.



Today's Republicans are really a "Free Trade Libertarians" who are staunch anti-social insurance to the hard core. The progressive party of Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt exist in name only.   

There is no government of the people, by the people and for the people and no longer does every American deserve a "fair deal".



MarkVV
MarkVV

After quoting the self-serving, self-righteous comments by Reps. Perdue and Price (naturally, their own actions in Congress have been impeccable and have not contributed to the decline of the Congress as a branch of the government), Kyle raises a salient point by posing a question to the Trump supporters.

The main issue regarding the Trump campaign success so far is not Mr. Trump and what he says, but the fact that so many are willing to make a President someone like Trump just on the basis of his promises and his “leadership qualities.” Hearing even the political commentators to emphasize that Trump is “a leader” I hope that it is appreciated by the German speaking people, who know what in German the word “leader” is: “Der führer.” 

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Kyle_Wingfield @MarkVV It absolutely does. And if you compare Trump's promises with Obama’s pre-election speeches and comments, then I can only say that your political sense is warped beyond repair.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@MarkVV You just like what Obama said better than what Trump says. You had no better basis for predicting his presidential fitness than Trumps' fans do for him. But neither you (and other Obama supporters) or they want to admit as much.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Kyle_Wingfield @MarkVV Kyle, you are right in only one thing: that I liked better what Obama said than what Trump says. But the rest – that I had no better basis for predicting Obama’s presidential fitness than Trumps' fans have for him is pure hogwash. As much as pre-election statements can predict it – and you have served us plenty of those for some of the Republican candidates with the implication that they were what could be expected from them if elected – there no comparison between Trump and Obama and, as a matter of fact, between Trump and most of the other Republican candidates.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@MarkVV OK, what besides the things Obama said made you think he would be a good president?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@MarkVV Yes, we were. I said: "You just like what Obama said better than what Trump says. You had no better basis for predicting his presidential fitness than Trumps' fans do for him."

And then you said: "that I had no better basis for predicting Obama’s presidential fitness than Trumps' fans have for him is pure hogwash."

And then I said: "OK, what besides the things Obama said made you think he would be a good president?" Because, getting back to the point at the top of this thread, all you had were the same "basis of his promises and his 'leadership qualities'" that you knocked about Trump and his fans.

And you had no answer.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Kyle_Wingfield @MarkVV Then you better read again my first comment. For someone writing so much about the candidates one would expect that you could fill in the details that I have left out: Trump’s incessant boasting that everything will be great if he is elected – without saying much anything how he would accomplish that - that all those making decision are stupid while he is smart, etc. Show me anything Obama said in his pre-election speeches that can compare with that.

 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@MarkVV "the fact that so many are willing to make a President someone like Trump just on the basis of his promises and his “leadership qualities.”"

Which makes them vastly different from Obama's original supporters.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Kyle_Wingfield @MarkVV One more time, if you really do not see a difference in the boasts of Trump and Obama, then you are in my opinion so warped that it would be useless to discuss that with you further.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@MarkVV Thanks for confirming my point, which is that all you have is your liking one man's words more than another. But that's all supporters of either man had to go on: words.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@MarkVV You're going to go with "Obama never boasted"? Really? The guy who was a better speechwriter than his speechwriters, better on policy than his policy directors, a better political director than his political directors? The one who said he was "LeBron, baby"? The one who said Washington was fundamentally broken and he was going to fundamentally change the way it works? The one who said his election would be the moment the oceans stopped rising and the planet healed?
That guy? You think that guy wasn't boastful and light on the details of how he'd make good on his boasts?

Corey
Corey

The last Republican presidency was marked by failure and incompetence at home and abroad, and I see nothing to indicate another Republican presidency would be any different, unless it was even worse. Unfortunately, voters are all too susceptible to shallow emotionalism and demagoguery, so the Republicans' demonstrated inability to govern does not guarantee their failure at the ballot box.

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

"there are fewer people working, as a percentage, since the late ’70s"


Nationally? It was 4.0 in 2000 as Clinton was leaving office. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Kyle_Wingfield @Finn-McCool "there are fewer people working, as a percentage, since the late ’70s"


A pretty misleading statement. 


Unlike the country's high unemployment and slow job-creation, our low participation rate (the lowest since 1978, to be exact) is sometimes considered something of a mystery. But upon examination, it's really not that mysterious. The recession has discouraged many people from looking for a job and encouraged marginal workers to find other things to do with their time, like care for their kids. But most of the decline appears to be the predictable result of an aging country that is waiting longer to enter the workforce because we're spending more time in school. And, since one of those things (aging) is inevitable and the other (school) is arguably good, it's hard to see how the low participation rate is the president's fault.


http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/01/no-obamas-not-to-blame-for-our-historically-pathetic-participation-rate/283015/


They will keep trotting that low labor participation rate line out there but its a bit more complicated than Obama = Bad

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Hedley_Lammar Take another look at that Fed graph. It had, at worst, leveled off in the few years before the recession ... and if you look closely, you'll see even that was more or less mirroring the growth of the economy during that time period.
Of course, the subsequent falloff also pretty much mirrors what the economy has done. 

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

Price is correct that the biggest problem with getting things done in Washington is Obama's unilateral re-write or outright violation of various laws.  The second biggest problem is Congress' refusal to do anything about it using their power of the purse.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@LilBarryBailout Actually, he and I talked about that, too. I just didn't have room for it. He is in the middle of a campaign to make people aware that two-thirds of all spending is
on auto-pilot": Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, interest payments on the debt and other mandatory programs, and that we need to do something about that. Otherwise, Congress is just arguing over a relatively small -- and shrinking -- piece of the budget.

Caius
Caius

Great column Kyle.

My take is that the guilty party is not the Executive and/or the Judiciary but the Legislative Branch.

Congress has for decades insisted that the Executive take the responsibility for spending.  Congress refuses to 

simply use the authority on spending handed to it on a silver platter by the Constitution.  And congress has refused to address issues through legislation leaving it up to the courts to resolve.


A new president cannot "fix or repair" Congress.  Maybe new congressmen can.  Maybe.


FIGMO2
FIGMO2

I'm lookin' for a candidate that'll put things back in sync without sinking the American voters in the process. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

never more so than in the past 6.5 years, from our perspective,” he said, referring of course to Barack Obama’s presidency. “This president has acted in an extralegal way many times, and clearly with a regulatory oppression that has become stock and trade for his administration, they are assuming much of the policymaking role for the country.


Congress has become so dysfunctional somebody had to. If they want to see the root of their problems they should look in  a mirror not towards the WH.

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

@Hedley_Lammar  The GOP gave nothing to help the President or the country since President Obama was elected,  if they would work with somebody the country would be much better off. It is still better off in spite of their hate.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@bu2 @Jefferson1776 @Hedley_Lammar  If Obama were a leader instead of a demagogue, maybe he would have gotten cooperation.


That was never going to happen regardless. Republicans were welcomed to give input ion Obamacare. They refused. 

bu2
bu2

@Jefferson1776 @Hedley_Lammar


If Obama were a leader instead of a demagogue, maybe he would have gotten cooperation.  Its hard to get somebody to work with you when you start out by saying, "You are trying to screw the American people to keep getting your bribes from big business, but I will still work with you if you will do things my way."  That's not an exact quote, but its pretty close.  Its unreal how out of touch with reality Obama is--or alternatively that he cares so much more about scoring political points than helping Americans.


Its also hard to get cooperation when you shut them out of the writing process as with Obamacare and then try to shut off any debates or amendments.