Tuesday, January 23, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He put a price on the heads of DACA recipients.

Late this evening, Trump took to Twitter to demand what he could have had several days ago: American taxpayer funding for his much-discussed but never-quite-built border wall. Negotiating on behalf of Senate Democrats last week, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York had offered Trump a funding package that would include money for the wall in exchange for Trump's agreement to support a legislative solution for DACA recipients. 

In the end, with Trump holed up in the White House--unable to take his usual 3-day Florida weekend but apparently unwelcome in the negotiations--the shutdown was at least temporarily ended with a promise of a straight vote on DACA in the coming weeks but no border wall funding. It also restored six years of funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which Trump--but virtually nobody else--opposed as part of this bill. 

Schumer made clear in remarks to media today that taxpayer money for the wall was no longer on the table. But Trump seems unwilling or unable to accept the notion that Schumer could retract his end of a "deal" he never made with Trump, and lashed out in a tweet: "if there is no wall, there is no DACA!"

87% of Americans--as close to unanimity as it's possible to get in American politics--support legislative protection for Dreamers, who were brought to the United States as children and who have voluntarily participated in the DACA program. 

Why does this matter?

  • Being a great negotiator--or even just an okay one--means understanding that you can't just demand everything you want.
  • It's bad if a president ignores an overwhelming public consensus on a policy issue for leverage to get something a lot less popular.