Conservatives Mock Shutdown Deal; Trump and Xi at Mar-a-Lago?
Author: Greg Valliere
February 12, 2019
THAT’S IT ?? After weeks of feverish negotiations to avoid a government shutdown, a congressional committee could only agree to a limp $1.38 billion package of border “barriers?” This is a far cry from the $5.7 billion demanded for a wall by President Trump, and it generated mockery from the right wing.
SEAN HANNITY ON FOX called the deal a “garbage compromise,” the head of the Freedom Caucus said Trump is unlikely to accept the deal, and Ann Coulter — who called Trump a “wimp” earlier this winter — can be expected to chime in today. Trump can’t enrage his conservative base — so now, in all likelihood, it’s on to Plan B.
IT HAD BEEN WIDELY ASSUMED that Trump would resort to a declaration of a national emergency, but that has encountered strong opposition from Republicans. So now there’s a new Plan B — Trump may use executive authority to take funds from, say, the Army Corps of Engineers and use the money for a wall.
ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, TRUMP SAID LAST NIGHT, a wall will be built, and this transfer of funds may be his preferred route, even though it will encounter immediate litigation. But it might avoid a shutdown, which has been a disaster for the Republicans; actually, no one in either party wants to deny paychecks to 800,000 workers once again.
SO OUR GUESS THIS MORNING is that some type of Plan B will become likely, but we’re so close to the Feb. 15 funding deadline that an old Washington standby — kicking the can down the road — could emerge, extending the deadline for another few weeks.
THE BOTTOM LINE is that another long shutdown — harming the economy and crippling the airports — still looks unlikely. But the border fight will drag on and on, with the courts soon getting involved. We think Trump could accept some type of border barriers, but he will view $1.38 billion as a pittance, an insult.
TRUMP-XI IN MAR-A-LAGO? Axios and other insiders are reporting that aides to Trump are proposing a splashy ceremony — a made for TV ratings bonanza — at Mar-a-Lago this spring between Presidents Trump and Xi, announcing an agreement in principle to end the trade war. We think this is a likely scenario.
FIRST, HOWEVER, WE THINK THERE WILL BE the inevitable ups and downs as the toughest issues near resolution — intellectual property rights, state-sponsored monopolies and, of course, an enforcement mechanism. There’s virtually no way these issues can be resolved before the March 2 deadline, which will have to be extended (if there’s little progress, Trump could ratchet up the pressure with higher tariffs in early March).
BUT BOTH SIDES NEED A DEAL: Xi has a weakening economy and, potentially, a restive work force. Trump needs a happy stock market as he begins his re-election campaign. So a deal is likely, probably by late spring, which will disappoint Trump’s trade hawks but please his political advisers.
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