Even If Trump Is Ready to Try Bipartisanship, It Won't Be Easy

WASHINGTON — His nose bloodied trying to repeal Obamacare, Donald Trump says he's eager to work with Democrats on other agenda items, but that would be tricky. And mixed signals cast doubt on whether his heart really is in it.Although many voters pine for bipartisanship, any move to the middle would alienate hard-liners in Congress. Trump has shown an unusual willingness to do just that, threatening to work to unseat conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus who helped block his health care plan.But that's seen as an empty threat, given how entrenched most of those lawmakers are back home — and given Trump's rock-bottom approval ratings, which inspire little fear in either party.And while the president has expressed a desire to work with Democrats, they don't seem so interested, and he continues to resort to intimidation. The same tweet that conveyed a threat to campaign against Freedom Caucus members in 2018 included the same threat aimed at Democrats."You can't just say OK, now I'll work with some Democrats. He has to do some spadework with some Democratic constituencies to hate him less and want to get more stuff done with him," said John Feehery, a top aide to former House Speaker Dennis Hastert and, before that, Tom DeLay, when the Texan was a feared House majority whip.In theory, Trump could trade conservative votes for support from across the aisle. Bill Clinton used such "triangulation" to enact welfare reform, going around many fellow Democrats in Congress. Trump's simultaneous fight with conservatives and Democrats precludes that tactic, though.Not that Democrats are eager to throw him a lifeline, especially while he's still trying to dismantle Obamacare.House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi challenged Republicans to show their bipartisan spirit by agreeing to an independent commission to investigate Russia's meddling in last year's election and its tentacles in the administration."What do the Russians have on Donald Trump politically, personally and financially that the Republicans are doing everything in their power to keep the truth from the American people?" she asked.To Republican ears, that's the sort of toxic attitude that makes it futile to bother trying to collaborate."This is a Mars versus Venus type situation in the House," said Feehery.Democrats do say they're open to working with the White House on select issues.Many like Trump's idea of a $1 trillion infusion for roads, airports and other infrastructure, though they complain that the budget blueprint he issued in mid-March reflects no such priority. There's also some common ground on trade, with many Democrats sharing Trump's wariness of deals that hurt American workers. Some see opportunity on criminal justice reform and even on an overhaul of immigration policy.But they also view Republicans with skepticism, given how hard they dug in against Obama. And they put the onus on the GOP members to show they're sincere in reaching across the aisle.  Continue reading...

Copyright The Dallas Morning News
Contact Us