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Donald, Chuck and Nancy: The start of a beautiful friendship?


Don’t hold your breath.

Just to clear this up: No, we are not headed toward a blissful and cooperative relationship between Donald Trump and Democratic leadership for the next three-plus years.

First, President Trump has made no secret of his love of deal-making, once saying on Twitter (where else?): “Deals are my art form. Other people paint beautifully or write poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks.”

The agreement to a three-month extension of the debt limit, instead of the 18 months Republican leadership smartly wanted to get this past the 2018 congressional election, was a bad deal for Trump.

There is not a lot of power in the hands of minority leaders, but what the deal guarantees is another bite at the apple for must-pass legislation in December. In other words, it’s an opportunity for Pelosi and Schumer to attach an authorization of the DREAM Act or another priority important to Democratic leadership to the next debt ceiling extension.

Despite that, in Trump’s eyes, it was a still a deal. And for an hour or two he could bask in the glow of striking his first deal in quite some time.

Second, he is not exactly thrilled with the leadership and work of House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

While President Trump may not score well on a test about how a bill becomes a law, it was understandable that he was stunned, not unlike many Democrats, that seven years after Obamacare passed, the Republicans did not have a viable plan on the shelf for repealing and replacing. And was less than pleased that attempts to repeal his predecessor’s signature achievement failed not once, but twice.

So did he poke McConnell and Ryan in the eye on purpose? Maybe, but we probably won’t know until he tells us during his next press availability.

Third, even the White House is not spinning the deal with Schumer and Pelosi as the beginning of a new strategy to reach across the aisle. They were in the unenviable position of explaining why their boss agreed to a proposal made by the Democratic leadership, that the Republican speaker of the House called, “ridiculous and disgraceful” just hours earlier. And their answer? According to the White House director of Legislative Affairs, the deal will “clear the decks” for tax reform.

With DACA, Trump hammers final nail in compassionate conservatism's coffin

That might have merit, if… there was a tax reform package, not just principles, that had been heavily litigated through the web of tax lobbyists, interest groups, and members of the Republican caucus who viscerally disagree on rates, how to pay for the tax cuts and which loopholes should be on the chopping block. None of those things have happened.

And finally as a heavy consumer of media, President Trump is unlikely to be pleased by how his Wednesday morning deal-making is playing — as a big victory for the people he negotiated with. Even that alone will be a big deterrent to going down the road of deal-making with the Democrats anytime soon.

And all of this is bad news for a DACA deal. For Democrats, immigration advocates, and people with a shred of a soul, President Trump’s comments about DACA on Air Force One were encouraging. “Chuck and Nancy would like to see something happen, and so do I.

“I think they’re going to make a deal. I think Congress wants to do this.”

But here is the rub.

If Schumer and Pelosi have their way, there would be a clean authorization of DACA. There would be no funding for a wall on the Mexican border attached to it. In fact, it is hard to believe they would accept funding for a wall in any form given that it would be perceived as a big victory for Trump and a promise delivered. And the scope of other “border security” options that would be acceptable to Democrats and pro-wall building Republicans is narrow at best.

Trump ran as the law and order, anti-immigrant candidate who wanted to build a wall and round people up to kick them out of the country. And there is a faction of the country that voted for him as a result. Trump can’t and won’t be the arbiter of a deal on DACA. He may hold his nose and sign it, but he won’t be striking a deal on it. His politics won’t allow it.

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