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Trump Dumps the Do-Nothing Congress
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Donald Trump is president today because he was seen as a doer not a talker. Among the most common compliments paid him in 2016 was, “At least he gets things done!”

And it was exasperation with a dithering GOP Congress, which had failed to enact his or its own agenda, that caused Trump to pull the job of raising the debt ceiling away from Republican contractors Ryan & McConnell, and give it to Pelosi & Schumer.

Hard to fault Trump. Over seven months, Congress showed itself incapable of repealing Obamacare, though the GOP promised this as its first priority in three successive elections.

Returning to D.C. after five weeks vacation, with zero legislation enacted, Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were facing a deadline to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government.

Failure to do so would crash the markets, imperil the U.S. bond rating, and make America look like a deadbeat republic.

Families and businesses do this annually. Yet, every year, it seems, Congress goes up to the precipice of national default before authorizing the borrowing to pay the bills Congress itself has run up.

To be sure, Trump only kicked this year’s debt crisis to mid-December.

Before year’s end, he and Congress will also have to deal with an immigration crisis brought on by his cancellation of the Obama administration’s amnesty for the “Dreamers” now vulnerable to deportation.

He will have to get Congress to fund his Wall, enact tax reform and finance the repair and renewal of our infrastructure, or have his first year declared a failure.

We are likely looking at a Congressional pileup, pre-Christmas, from which Trump will have to call on Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, again, to extricate him and his party.

The question that now arises: Has the president concluded that working with the GOP majorities alone cannot get him where he needs to go to make his a successful presidency?

Having cut a deal with Democrats for help with the debt ceiling, will Trump seek a deal with Democrats on amnesty for the “Dreamers,” in return for funding for border security? Trump seemed to be signaling receptivity to the idea this week.
Will he give up on free-trade Republicans to work with Democrats to protect U.S. jobs and businesses from predator traders like China?

Will he cut a deal with Hill Democrats on which infrastructure projects should be funded first? Will he seek out compromise with Democrats on whose taxes should be cut and whose retained?

We could be looking at a seismic shift in national politics, with Trump looking to centrist and bipartisan coalitions to achieve as much of his agenda as he can. He could collaborate with Federalist Society Republicans on justices and with economic-nationalist Democrats on tariffs.

But the Congressional gridlock that exhausted the president’s patience may prove more serious than a passing phase. The Congress of the United States, whose powers were delineated in the late 18th century, may simply not be an institution suited to the 21st.


A century ago, Congress ceded to the Federal Reserve its right “to coin money (and) regulate the value thereof.” It has yielded to the third branch, the Supreme Court, the power to invent new rights, as in Roe v. Wade. Its power to “regulate commerce with foreign nations” has been assumed by an executive branch that negotiates the trade treaties, leaving Congress to say yea or nay.

Congress alone has the power to declare war. But recent wars have been launched by presidents over Congressional objection, some without consultation. We are close to a second major war in Korea, the first of which, begun in 1950, was never declared by the Congress, but declared by Harry Truman to be a “police action.”

In the age of the internet and cable TV, the White House is seen as a locus of decision and action, while Capitol Hill takes months to move. Watching Congress, the word torpor invariably comes to mind, which one Webster’s Dictionary defines as “a state of mental and motor inactivity with partial or total insensibility.”

Result: In a recent survey, 72 percent of Americans expressed high confidence in the military; 12 percent said the same of Congress.

The members of Congress the TV cameras reward with air time are most often mavericks like John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Jeff Flake, who will defy a president the media largely detest.

At the onset of the post-Cold War era, some contended that democracy was the inevitable future of mankind. But autocracy is holding its own. Russia, China, India, Turkey, Egypt come to mind.

If democracy, as Freedom House contends, is in global retreat, one reason may be that, in our new age, legislatures, split into hostile blocs checkmating one another, cannot act with the dispatch impatient peoples now demand of their rulers.
In the days of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, Congress was a rival to even strong presidents. Those days are long gone.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

Copyright 2017

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Congress, Donald Trump, Republicans 
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  1. Pat is on to something. The Constitution was a reasonable way to govern a federal union in 1787 where almost all decisions were left to states. Now it is outmoded (there is, for example almost no way to form a viable third party given the winner-take-all, first past the post nature of elections), but the U.S. is so divided that the likelihood that a Constitutional Convention could reach agreement on a replacement is roughly zero.

    • Replies: @Miro23
  2. If Congress is too slow, too unwieldy, than what can we say about the SCOTUS?

  3. KenH says:

    If democracy, as Freedom House contends, is in global retreat, one reason may be that, in our new age, legislatures, split into hostile blocs checkmating one another,

    You can thank our immigration policy that reduced whites to 60% of the population and a (((media))) that seeks to divide and subdivide whites and worsen race relations through the creation of false narratives in place of objective news reporting. Republican Congressman are more loyal to their donors, lobbyists and the (((media))) than they are to their own constituents.

    The Congress of the United States, whose powers were delineated in the late 18th century, may simply not be an institution suited to the 21st.

    Congressional gridlock can be a good thing and serves as an impediment to one man tyranny but it’s now reached the point where the nation can’t function or get anything done.

    But autocracy is holding its own. Russia, China, India, Turkey, Egypt come to mind.

    Except in those nations their autocrats act in the best interests of their citizens. None of those leaders are subjecting their people to replacement level immigration. If we can find an American autocrat who will act in the best interest of the white majority and only the white majority then count me in. Trump is not that man.

  4. It’s great to see The Donald finally making some friends on his new job. I hope the three amigos can eliminate the debt ceiling. You can have debt money (the FED) or a debt ceiling. You can’t have both.

    • Replies: @El Dato
  5. I love Pat Buchanan like a brother, but .. (you know what’s coming):

    A) Families and businesses do this annually.

    No, families DO NOT raise their debt amounts annually, though a lot of them would if they could. At some point, the salary(s) will not keep up.

    The credit card companies will have cut you off after you’ve been paying minimum payments or less for 5 years and are at your limit, because you are using those cards to still pay on the older ones. A guy will have disabled your 4-year-old station-wagon, excuse me – crossover, while you are in WalMart in order to safely repossess it after you have gotten done trying to figure out what’s broken and have left the scene. At some point, the house payment will be blown off, though most people are still responsible enough that it’s usually the last. It’s not the old days, but some time after some notices in the mail, the law will come with some paperwork to the front door.

    What can’t go on, won’t go on, Pat. Monetary default or hyperinflation of the US dollar will be a much bigger deal than a million family bankruptcies.

  6. B) Result: In a recent survey, 72 percent of Americans expressed high confidence in the military;

    I can be 100 % confident that without the $1,000,000,000,000 or so budget being spent each year, that the US military won’t be able to make war on anyone. In addition, due to the evisceration of our manufacturing base (that Mr. Buchanan knows all about), we are dependent on countries, some that we are making enemies out of, cough, cough, China, for supplies and materials to maintain our assets. See part A) about the finances.

    I understand Mr. Trump and the art of the deal and all that. Unless you drastically change the amount of spending and borrowing, this is akin to making some good dope deals on the deck of Titanic.

  7. C) All this stuff about democracy – what gives? This country was not founded as a democracy, Pat. I’m sure you know this, as one of your books, as I recall was “A Republic, not an Empire” (going from memory – I hope I got that right). Our founders were very bright men.

    I agree with you about the Legislative branch having let the other branches usurp its powers. However, none of the branches have been abiding by the US Constitution for a long time, so I don’t see how strengthening back up the Legislative branch is going to help that much, except possibly, to slow down the warmaking, as, like you said, Congress is kind of “torpid”.

    Yes indeed, a new Constitutional Convention would be a hoot. May as well just bring a big laminated wall map and scripto markers and let the delegates go ahead and split up the country while they’re all together. (I can see a need for lots of metal detectors too … DON’T FORGET THE METAL DETECTORS!)

    • Agree: Grandpa Charlie
    • Replies: @Diversity Heretic
  8. @Achmed E. Newman

    We could suspend laws against duelling for delegates to the Constitutional Convention. That might speed things up.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  9. Pat Boyle says:

    This has all happened at least once before. The Roman Republic was similar to ours: Periodic elections of public candidates, One legislature rather than two and two executives rather than one – but otherwise quite similar. And of course every man at the American Constitutional Convention knew the history of the Roman Republic and they knew how it fell to become the Roman Empire.

    It was a man called Caesar.

    They worried a lot about the rise of an American Caesar and they instituted mechanisms to avoid that contingency. But maybe as Mr. Buchanan suggests – it is time.

    • Agree: Johann Ricke
  10. El Dato says:

    Result: In a recent survey, 72 percent of Americans expressed high confidence in the military

    To do what exactly?

    Fuck up tremendously and then lie about it?

    Has ANYONE been watching the news the last 20 years or so, I mean, like, since the stupid Yougoslavian “war”? Between sybaritic nepotism and rank incompetence, between politicization and PC outbreaks, we have had: non-flying F-35, ships scratching up against civilian transports, idiotic behaviour on the Russian front, asshattery about a nuclear “triad” that is an accident-in-waiting in need of being cut down to reasonable size right f. now, we have had dead NFL stars in Afghanistan complete with coverup, the Jessia Lynch propaganda freakshow, “mucho people killed in Afghanistan for no good reason”, we have stuffing of the upper levels of the command hierarchy, dropping vets down the roach-infested chute, poisoning soldiers with burn pits or via camping in dumps of carcignogenic chemicals, not to mention devastating random countries with uranium dust. Did I mention Anthrax going walkabout out of USAMRIID?

    It’s Catch-22, but with more powerful weapons. Confidence? How!

  11. El Dato says:

    Well, if you don’t have “fake money” (not exactly debt money, it’s just fake money) you don’t need the debt ceiling, as your debt is regulated by your lack of power to pull in the money. End of story.

    That superhole of 120 trillion or so will have to be filled somehow, by hook or by crook, and not with the heaps of trash that a bubble economy produces. I guess the usual suspects will be told that they pension payouts have disappeared or that they have had negative interest rates on their life savings or could they please get a cheaper doctor, and oh, the schools are no longer so free either. Maybe sell a kidney for tax relief? And your house must now give way to the new supermansion being built down the street (that guy made a lot of dough with government contracts dontcha know), sorry, it’s all been agreed on by the courts.

    “Muh government” thinking along the lines of “we can always print more money” and ideas like the Trillion Dollar Coin (remember that one) is like heroin. And some point, the imaginary lefty safe space reveals itself in all its imaginariness.


  12. Miro23 says:
    @Diversity Heretic

    The Constitution was a reasonable way to govern a federal union in 1787 where almost all decisions were left to states.

    So why not go back to that design leaving the absolute minimum of power with Washington?

    The Founders wanted at all cost to avoid the centralization of power at the Federal level because they (correctly) anticipated what would happen. States are large enough to look after their own taxation and spending and ideally placed to exclude Special Interests.

    Individual states now have bigger populations than the whole of the US in 1787 and could usefully decide for themselves (without the FED) if they want to fund the next ME war.

    • Replies: @Miro23
  13. Miro23 says:

    On this design, the United States would convert into the American Confederation (of States), rather like the Swiss Confederation, which has been running successfully since the Middle Ages.

    Central power would be minimal, with a figurehead President. The Swiss rotate the presidency yearly ( who has heard of Doris Leuthard?), with individual Cantons raising most of their own taxes, and mostly looking after their own police, healthcare, education and infrastructure.

    A useful feature of this system, is that it marginalizes special interests of the central Washington type like the FBI, CIA, MIC, AIPAC, Healthcare Lobby etc.

  14. Anonymous [AKA "swami399"] says:

    Years ago, the US Dollar was backed by gold, today the US dollar is backed by paper.

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