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Staying in at recess?

August 7, 2017

With Congress in recess, many constituents are poised to pounce on their representatives like coyotes watching a gopher hole.

They are ticked off about a whole range of issues, from healthcare to the seeming desire of many politicians to disregard the people’s wishes, so long as they can stymie the Trump agenda.

Those members running for office next year almost have to engage with the electorate in their states.

Others are contemplating electronic town halls or tightly controlled television photo ops. Given the simmering anger in the country, you really almost feel sorry for them.

Although the economy remains high on voters’ minds, the issues span a wide range.

It will be interesting to see how many senators and representatives actually attempt to connect with real, live, fire-breathing people.

In the meantime, the media has a great chance to fully concentrate on the President, and they are sure to take full advantage of that circumstance.

This will be a great test of any new direction in the White House. If POTUS can manage to get through the August recess without any major PR missteps, it will not bode well for his opponents.

One problem with Congress being at home and not in Washington is that it’s going to be at least marginally harder to play CYA with the Justice Department.

If AG Sessions is as committed as he says he is to stopping leaks that endanger national security this would be a great time to look for the weak links in the chain.

For the President’s part, being out of the White House while it is being renovated makes this a grand time to hit the political reset button and tighten up his operation.

It’s obvious by now that his strategy of expecting Congress to deal with multiple major legislative issues isn’t going to work, and he needs to deliver on at least one of the big three (healthcare, taxes and infrastructure) by the end of 2017.

Congress has certain duties it has to address, namely  the budget and debt ceiling.  After that, someone in the administration had better decide what will carry the most weight with voters as well as delivering the most bang for the buck, relative to the next three years.

It obviously isn’t going to be healthcare at this point. Anything they come up with now will of necessity need to prop up the current system for at least another year.

Infrastructure is dependent on the budget, and a trillion dollars of potential savings went out the window, courtesy of John McCain.

That just leaves taxes. Voters not only want but need to see something good happening to their paychecks.

At this point it appears that any comprehensive overhaul of the tax code is far too heavy a lift for the do-nothing, stall-until-the-next-election Congress to deal with this year.

With any luck, the President’s team can design an effective campaign to at least get meaningful tax cuts in place.

If they can win on that, they will buy themselves enough time to tackle the other issues and also give the Republicans something good to talk about in 2018.  If not…well, it won’t be pretty.

From → op-ed

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