Tax cuts are looking like a rare win for President Trump. His first anniversary in the White House on Saturday coincides with a possible federal funding hiatus. Slashing corporate taxes was a Republican success. But the wrangling over a government shutdown is indicative of the partisan deadlock to come.
Members of Congress sparred on Friday over proposals to authorize stopgap funding until mid-February — the fourth such temporary measure since October, if it happens. Among other things, the negotiations have been caught up in a battle over immigration. Democrats are seeking to protect from deportation an estimated 700,000 individuals who were brought to the United States illegally as children. The Trump administration said in September that existing protections will expire in March without congressional action.
At least some Democrats see funding measures — which Republicans can’t pass in the Senate without support from some of them — as one of their few areas of leverage. Yet a prolonged shutdown is an expensive way to make a point. The Office of Management and Budget, citing independent forecasters, estimated that the 16-day gap in 2013 knocked 0.2 to 0.6 percent off that year’s fourth-quarter gross domestic product.
Even if lawmakers arrive at a deal, the wrangling is a preview of future rancor. Congress will quiet down later this year as members turn their attention to the fall midterm elections, which might prove bruising for Republicans. The sitting president’s party has suffered in 16 of the 18 postwar midterm elections, with an average loss of about 26 seats in the House. If Democrats manage to flip the lower chamber or even the Senate, they could essentially rule out major legislation, as Republicans did during most of Barack Obama’s administration.
It all suggests that the tax bill, passed last month, might come to be Mr. Trump’s equivalent of his predecessor’s health care overhaul. The Affordable Care Act became law 14 months after Mr. Obama’s inauguration, but the roadblocks to ambitious action hardened from then on. While the Trump administration wants to push an infrastructure-spending package, congressional leaders have more or less abandoned hopes for major changes to welfare programs and other items on their wish list. Even for Mr. Trump, a self-described master deal maker, election-year Washington will make for swampy going.
News credit : Nytimes