Don’t Normalize Trump’s Policy Incoherence

Donald Trump’s policy agenda is based on lies, incompetence, racism, and whatever he wants to say at the moment. To demonstrate, let’s take a look at what he’s said since the Republicans failed to repeal/replace Obamacare.

Right out of the gates, this was the president’s response:

As we know, based on what both the CBO and S&P have said, Obamacare is not about to fold—unless the Republicans do something to undermine it. Yesterday Greg Sargent pointed out that Trump had a chance to do just that. He chose not to.

The message went out that the Republicans were moving on to tackle tax reform. The White House signaled that they were dumping Ryan’s tax plan, the one Trump proposed during the campaign, as well as the one that was developed during the transition. In other words, they’re starting from scratch.

The Trump White House is already mapping out a major, historic overhaul of the tax code, just one week after the stunning collapse of its Obamacare repeal bill.

It’s a move that carries enormous political risks given the complexity of the code, the size of the package officials are eyeing and the administration’s already frayed ties to Capitol Hill. But the White House is eager to move on and hopes a more hands-on approach will avert another legislative failure — even if the details of the tax plan are far from figured out…

The key takeaway: The White House is not outsourcing these details to anyone, including the speaker of the House…

Whatever plan Mnuchin develops, it will be Trump’s third tax blueprint in less than a year. Campaign advisers and transition staff each developed separate blueprints, but no one seems to be paying much attention to those right now.

Alice Ollstein points out that re-writing a tax plan will be difficult for Treasury Secretary Mnuchin primarily because the Trump administration has decided not to fill so many positions in the federal government.

In the middle of all that turmoil, Trump has done a complete about-face and now says that he wants to repeal Obamacare before doing tax reform.

Meanwhile, Trump’s OMB Director Mike Mulvaney wants to insert a poison pill on defunding sanctuary cities into the upcoming spending bill. The White House needs Democratic support for that measure in order to avoid a government shutdown on April 29th (Trump’s 100th day in office). In other words, Mulvaney is probably aware that another Trump executive order is about to go down in flames in the courts and is trying to get Congress to do an end-around on that one, even if it risks a government shut-down.

We’re witnessing the same kind of incoherence in the Trump administration’s foreign policy. The most recent examples come from Sec. of State Rex Tillerson who has suggested that it is up to Russia to police themselves on election interference and yesterday questioned why American taxpayers should worry about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which happened after Ukrainians democratically deposed a Putin puppet.

There really is no middle ground for discussing this as if Trump and his staff had some kind of political strategy that informed these moves. Either we are watching the most sophisticated game of three-dimensional chess ever played out on the political stage and no one is able to see the end game, or we are being led by a madman surrounded by incompetence.

For me, the competition between those two interpretations isn’t even close. Part of the process of “normalizing” Trump is to pretend like either he or his staff know what they’re doing. They don’t. And the results are showing.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.