December 30, 2018

Sunday School 12/30/18

Too many of the usual suspects were on the shows this morning, including Lindsey Graham and Kellyanne Conway, so I only visited on classroom this morning: Face the Nation on CBS, with Margaret Brennan hosting.

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT),  members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, were on the show. Tester was a frequent target of president Trump, primarily over the thought that Trump might want to do some vetting on Dr. Ronny Johnson before nominating him to be VA Secretary.

Shelby was up first; the conversation was mostly about the shutdown and who might be to blame; polls say Trump more than the Dems.
...we've got to move away from the blame game, blaming the president, blaming the Democrats, Pelosi and Schumer and others, and get back to doing what we're sent here to do, funding the government.
Shelby indicated he's had conversations with the president and veep, and that some proposals had been shared, but no progress.
Right now, we're at a standoff, and I think that's not good for the Senate, the House, or America. We can do better and we've got to figure out a way, Margaret, do get to yes. If we blame each other, this could last a long, long time. 
Brennan wondered why continuing funding at the current level, $1.3B, was not enough. Shelby said, simply,
Well, the president wants more... 
Shelby repeated his 'we have to stop blaming each other' speaking point, even on the question of whether he agreed with the president's tweet stating that the deaths of two children at the border were "strictly the fault of the Democrats."

Of course, the majority of Republicans studiously avoid saying they do or don't agree with the president when he tweets stuff like this, or when he lies, or attacks innocent people (including our allies, or their own colleagues) which is why the president continues to tweet and lie and attack on a daily basis.

Regarding Chief of Staff General John Kelly's comment that we need to "stop US demand for drugs and expand economic opportunity in Central America" to solve our immigration problem - which looked like a contradiction to Trump suggesting that we cut aid to Central American countries - Brennan asked if Shelby agreed or if Congress would even consider that.
Well, I don't know yet, The president speaks for himself and he does speak for a lot of the nation because he is the president. But my goal is to secure the border... we're one of the great nations of the world that don't secure the borders...
He did agree that things will be different when the Dems take hold of the House, that there will have to be negotiations on things like protections for DREAMers, but Shelby sees his job as securing the borders - not a lot of room for anything else in his comments.

Tester's interview also focused on the shutdown. Brennan started by referencing Shelby's comments that they need to know what the Dems want, and when.
...The problem is that the president has $1.3B from last year for border security, actually $21B for border security, $1.3B for the wall, (and) that he has spent very, very little of that. And he says he needs more...
Bottom line is, Margaret, is that I don't talk to anybody in the Senate that doesn't want secure borders. It's just how the money is going to be spent. 
He also noted that the president moved the goalposts, originally asking for $1.6B (which Shelby and McConnell both voted for) but then upping the demand to $5B. Tester continued to focus on how the money would be spent, including referencing both manpower and technology as being more effective than a wall.

Brennan asked about adding 'sweeteners' such as protection for DREAMers as a way to get Dems to move up from the current figure.
Well...we've been here before. I was in the room when the president said 'if Congress passes that, I'm going to sign it' and then he moved back away from that... ultimately in the end we do need comprehensive immigration reform, there's no doubt about that. But in the end we need to know what the president wants.  And hopefully he'll stick to it... We need some predictability.
NO! They need to pass comprehensive immigration legislation, send it to his desk, and let him veto it. And then, after he tweets his brains out, they can either go back at it or they can override his veto.  Tester, of all people, should know that his job is not sitting around waiting for the president to pull Congressional puppet strings. 
Brennan asked if there was "a cost for Democrats to appear to work with the president?" Tester's answer?
No, I think what Democrats need to do is they need to work for the country, and make sure that not only the southern border, but the northern border is secure, make sure that we have the ability on the borders to be able to screen every vehicle to make sure that drugs don't come into this country. And I think that if we're able to get a plan to be able to do that, which I don't think is hard to do, I think Democrats and Republicans can work together to make sure that we have a secure border and keep this country safe.
They talked a little about tariffs and how the trade war is hurting farmers (Tester is one). The bottom line on this? We need the foreign markets, and we need to find another way to hold China accountable, "other than using the family farmer, the American farmer, as a tool."

We'll close with how Dems can win in the Midwest and West.
I think it's more of a function of listening and going everywhere. I don't believe in models that say you just knock on this door, you just go to this community and you'll get elected. I think you go everywhere and you listen to everybody. Everybody's got ideas. Some of them are great - take those great ideas back to Washington DC and that's how we win.
Brennan asked if he was suggesting that Dems are out of touch with Tester's part of the country.
I think all politicians have gotten out of touch. In fact, they just go to certain places where they think they can get enough votes to win. 
I think that what makes this country great is a Washington DC that works for everybody and works for this country. And in order to do that, you've got to go everywhere and listen to everybody's concerns and needs and go back and try to find solutions.
Spot on - they ARE out of touch, they ARE focused on winning, they are not focused on doing what we send them there to do.

See you around campus.  

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