December 23, 2018

Sunday School 12/23/18

Again this week we have two discussions with the same representative of the Trump administration.  Last week it was his attorney Rudy Giuliani, and this week we've got Office of Management and Budget Director and Acting Chief of Staff designee Mick Mulvaney visiting the ABC and Fox classrooms.

First, his conversation with John Karl on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. He updated us on the status of negotiations with Congress on the funding for the wall, which some Dems have said will not be forthcoming no matter what.

Karl focused on the president's promise (threat?) that Mexico would pay for the wall.
JK: Mark his words. Now, the president has forced a government shutdown because he's insisting that the American taxpayers pay for the wall. What gives?
MM: And if you ask the president, he'll point you immediately to something that didn't get a lot of news in the last couple of weeks, which is this new US-Mexico-Canada agreement, the USMCA which is so much better than the NAFTA deal that America workers are going to do better, the government is going to do better and you could make the argument that Mexico is paying for it in that fashion
JK: but boy, he's asking for billions of dollars from American taxpayers right now. Hasn't he broken one of the central promises of his campaign?
MM:  Let me finish, because another story that I don't think you covered this week, and I don't know why no one did, is that Mexico has now agreed, for the first time in history, to keep asylum seekers, folks who are trying to get into the USA, on the Mexican side of the border...They're actually doing more for border security than many Democrats in Congress. So we really think we're in a good place in terms of getting the wall built and also getting Mexico to participate in our border security.
JK: But one of that is Mexico paying for the wall. Let's just be clear about this --
Yes, let's be clear: to suggest that American workers "doing better" and Mexico holding asylum seekers on their side of the border are in any way equivalent or even remotely related to Mexico paying for the wall is absurd.

Mulvaney also talked about the budget, growing deficits, Syria and the resignation of General Mattis, and about the Chief of Staff position, and how long he expects to stay.
I don't know, I talked to the president about that. And I think, first of all, every position in the administration is temporary. We all serve at the, at the will of the president, he could fire all of us tomorrow and everybody knows that... But I think what we'll just do is take a couple of weeks, a couple months and see if he likes the way I'm handling the job, if I like the job.
In his discussion with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, he offered many similar comments: we've moved away from $5B, we need them to move away from $1.3; he mentioned a $2.3B figure here that he didn't mention in the other interview.

He talked about the shutdown with a little more detail:
It's Sunday right now, and government shuts down mostly on Sundays anyway. Government's shut down tomorrow anyway because it's a federal holiday and Tuesday is Christmas, again, another federal holiday. So, Wednesday is really the first day that this kicks in. The paychecks will importantly go out on the 28th. I want everybody to understand, no one is working without getting paid... The next pay period that is impacted is January 11th. I think that - it's very possible that the shutdown will be on the 28th and into the new Congress. 
And, he talked about the new wall, nothing like the old wall, it's not a wall at all, he said.
MM: The president tweeted out a picture yesterday, the steel fence, steel slatted fence with a pointed top and so forth, that's what we want to build. And in the Democrats' mind, that is not a wall. So they have offered this $1.3B to build the barrier that we want but then they go on TV and say there's no money for a wall. We've already told the Democrats we want to build what the president tweets out. It doesn't have to be 30-foot-high concrete. 
CW: So, you think that they would approve $1.3B to build this picket fence? 
MM: Exactly. Well, the steel barriers that the president tweeted out... 
As to when a deal might be done, Mulvaney was clear.
I think it's  really good question as to whether or not this deal can be cut before the new Congress comes in. I think there is an implication here for Nancy Pelosi's election for the speakership. I think she's in that unfortunate position of being beholden to her left wing where she cannot be seen as agreeing with the president on anything until after she is speaker. If that's the case, again, there's a chance we go into the next Congress. 
Mulvaney tried to explain away Wallace's question about Trump being proud to shut down the government, saying that he was "proud to have the fight' with the Dems, but that the ball was in their court since Mulvaney and Pence made them an offer and they have to decide what to do.

There was more here too, about Mattis and who the people listen to, and what not. At the end, Wallace talked about all the things that are going on.
CW: Does the president understand that there is growing concern in Washington, even among some people in his own party, that his presidency is in crisis?
MM:  No, I don't think there is concern that the presidency is in crisis..This as -- as I said at the outset, this is what having a president who is nontraditional, who's a different kind of president, looks like. He is not going to be an ordinary president and that's not what people wanted when they elected him...
Is it going to be a rocky road with the president who is willing to mix things up to change Washington to benefit folks back home?
See you around campus.

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