The Democrats Are Right — and Should Settle

The government shutdown is overwhelmingly the fault of Republican leaders. They, not Democrats, are the ones trying to make sharp changes in federal policy, like reduced legal immigration and a border wall. Democrats are largely trying to preserve programs — children’s health insurance and Dreamer protections — that many Republicans say they, too, support.

The Republican Party, of course, is also the one led by a president who doesn’t know enough about policy to negotiate on his own behalf. Everyone was able to see that two weeks ago during a televised White House meeting, when other Republicans had to correct President Trump — gently and awkwardly — about what he was supposed to believe. Trump, as The Washington Post reported this weekend, is “clearly not understanding the policy nuances of the negotiation.”

And yet to say that Republicans are responsible for the shutdown is not the same as saying that they would suffer most from a protracted shutdown. I worry that some progressives are missing that distinction. The shutdown has created one of the more treacherous political moments of Trump’s presidency for Democrats. It’s one they can navigate, but it requires subtlety.

So far during Trump’s time in office, principled policy and savvy politics have generally aligned for Democrats. They stymied Republican attempts to take health insurance from millions of people. Democrats tried to block a huge, permanent tax cut for the wealthy that came with small, disappearing tax cuts for everyone else. Democrats have opposed Trump’s efforts to let big corporations operate without much oversight. In each case, it has been both good policy and good politics.

 – New York Times

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