A Look at Where Republicans Are Backing Down

We’ve already seen president-elect Trump back off of his promise to repeal Obamacare and start talking about what portions he wants to keep. As I’ve explained before, that presents a minefield for Republicans to traverse in fulfilling one of their main promises. It is clear that they will eventually find ways to do serious damage to the law, but it’s going to be a bumpy ride along the way.

Another issue that Trump and Republicans shouted about during this election was the federal deficit/debt. They made grand promises about reducing it if they were given power. Slightly more than a week after they won, some Republicans are already backing off of that one as well.

For eight years, Republicans hammered President Barack Obama for exploding the national debt. But now a GOP-led spending spree is coming, with Donald Trump riding to the White House on trillion-dollar promises and a Republican Congress that looks likely to do his bidding. It’s a potential echo of the last time Republicans ran Washington, when then-Vice President Dick Cheney memorably remarked, “Deficits don’t matter.”

We’ve also seen Senate Majority Leader McConnell, the Republican who took charge of the battle against what he called “the war on coal,” back off the claim that coal jobs can be restored.

Yesterday we learned about another break in the Republican ranks. Some members of Congress and leaders of conservative advocacy organizations are cautioning the president-elect about his promise to pull out of the Iranian nuclear agreement. Here is the crux of the argument being made by Sen. Bob Corker, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

The problem is that, as part of the agreement, Iran already has accessed billions of dollars in once-frozen assets, Corker said. Plus, the U.S. is just one of seven countries involved in the deal, in which the United Nations and the European Union also play a role.

But here’s the kicker:

…Iranian officials, who have urged Trump to honor the deal, would have an excuse to restart their nuclear program and eventually build a bomb.

“You don’t want all the blame for the deal falling apart to land on the U.S.,” argued David Ibsen, president of United Against Nuclear Iran, a group that has spent months trying to persuade companies around the world not to invest in Iran despite the lifting of sanctions.

It is amazing to watch reality set in for demagogues.

It’s true that, when it comes to Donald Trump and some of the more extremist Republicans in Congress, reality doesn’t carry a lot of weight. Part of the attraction to Trump’s candidacy was that he was likely to burn the whole place down. Not all Republicans in Congress are on board with that and there seem to be occasions where Trump’s bluster during the campaign was more heat than light in terms of what he’ll actually do. At minimum, that creates division in Republican ranks, which is something Democrats should be able to exploit.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.