The second part of Donald Trump’s legislative agenda is going to be tax reform, and after the bust that was the American Health Care Act, the Trump Administration needs to score a victory, but there is a problem: his management style does not seem to lend itself well to legislative agendas.
Look at virtually all the reports from the AHCA lobbying effort. Trump treated Congressmen like employees rather than like members of a seperate-but-equal branch of government. He thought to let middle-management (Paul Ryan) run the show, and when their seemed to be breakdowns in worker-management relations, he stepped in at first to try to smooth things over while encouraging them to go with management’s plan.
And, of course, when that didn’t work, he sent in an enforcer to try to strong-arm them to going along with it.
The AHCA’s failure isn’t just a result of it being bad legislation – we have written thousands of words here at RedState to that effect – but it was also a result of a complete lack of understanding of how the two branches should work together. This was always the risk of bringing in a businessman with no political experience to run country instead of a company. The idea of “separate but equal” does not register to a guy who is completely and totally of the mindset that his will be done.
Tax reform is going to be a big project, and there is no way a hundred plus page bill that with little negotiation goes covers it all. Trump and Ryan are going to have to come to terms with the fact that there are forces in the House that are going to be, at best, skeptical of their plans. That doesn’t necessarily mean those forces will be hostile, mind you, but they are going to be tough to win over after the AHCA debacle.
Trump is going to have to learn pretty quickly that he can’t treat Congress as employees of his Republican Party. That is going to do nothing to endear him to them. He also has to learn not to go out and tweet harsh criticisms and blame at everyone else, especially in a world where negotiation and playing nice will get you a whole lot more.
Which is also what makes things weird here, because Trump is a man who billed himself as a dealer and negotiator. He swore up and down that he would cut the best deals and get a successful agenda through Congress. However, the handling of the AHCA is proof that he doesn’t know how to. At least, where Washington D.C. is concerned.
And, while “negotiating” is considered a bad word among the Right, and has been for years, the type of negotiating we need here is one that brings the most conservative victory possible – not the easiest vote possible, a la Mitch McConnell and John Boehner of eras past.
This is going to be Donald Trump’s success or failure, because it’s his agenda. He can pass the buck, but as has famously been said in the past (and ignored in the Obama Era), the buck stops there. He will have to deal with it.