Valley News -

By Jane Chastain
Special to Anza Valley Outlook 

World's greatest negotiator just got rolled


Last updated 8/8/2019 at 3:36pm

Don’t look now, but the world’s greatest negotiator just got rolled on a budget deal by a couple of snake oil salesman, and you will end up paying the bill.

Don’t blame House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She does what she has always done. Her game plan has always been the same. It has never changed. However, the president refused to listen to the grownups in the White House – Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Russell Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget – who had studied it and prepared an adequate defense.

No, the two guys holding out the bottle of magic miracle tonic were none other than Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. They claim it contains the solution to all President Donald Trump’s current problems. All he has to do is agree to raise the debt ceiling, drop his insistence that there be real offsets for a heavy round of new spending that bust the caps in the 2011 Budget Control Act – the hard fought victory won by the tea-party Congress –  and call it a victory for national defense.

Just drink the contents in this little bottle and there will be no more mention of the debt ceiling for two long years, and no more fights or threats of a government shutdown until well after the presidential election in 2020. Just drink it down, and there will be joy and peace all around.

Oh, yeah? Just wait until Sen. Elizabeth Warren lays out her economic charts showing red ink as far as the eye can see. She will, rightfully, point out that at some point we will have to pay the piper, and she will blame Trump for his loose economic policy and his tax cuts, which she claims only benefit the rich. Ignore her socialists policies. Next to Trump, she can portray herself as a fiscal conservative.

Everyone knows what a budget is. Every family and every business has one. Keeping within a budget is not rocket science. You make additions where necessary, and you make cuts on things that are “wants,” not “needs,” until it reaches balance. The primary job of our lawmakers is balancing that budget and keeping the nation safe, which is a constitutional priority.

Former President Barack Obama added $8.588 trillion to the national debt. That is the most dollar-wise of any U.S. president; however he was dealing with a recession. Trump, who is enjoying a booming economy, is now spending around 18% more that Obama was. It’s not because of the tax cuts. It’s primarily because of the budget deals that congressional Republicans cut with the Democrats during the last session of Congress. At the time, Trump promised that he would never sign another deal like that, and now he is poised to do it again.

Trump is right to want to build up our hollowed-out military; however, he was wrong to cave on a deal that gave Pelosi a staggering amount of money to squander on non-constitutional social programs. Pelosi had long insisted on parity in increases between defense and non-defense spending, but in this deal, non-defense spending will actually exceed defense spending by a whopping $10 billion over the next two years.

Candidate Trump promised that he would pay off the federal debt in eight years. Had he agreed to stick with the 2011 Budget Control Act and simply signed a continuing resolution, which would have kept spending at the current level until 2020 when an automatic sequester would have kicked in, discretionary spending would have been reduced by 10%. At that point, Trump would have had a bargaining chip to get Democrats to the table to reform mandatory spending, which is the biggest drain on the national debt. Now, he is over a barrel.

Trump has famously said that to make a good deal, you have to be prepared to walk away. Rep. Mike Johnson, R.-La., the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of some 150 conservative Republicans, was begging him to do just that. Instead Trump chose to take the easy way out.

McConnell is happy to call this “The Administration-Pelosi Budget Deal” as if he had nothing to do with it. He sent freshman Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa out to tell us that, with Democrats in control of the House, they really have no choice but to support it.

That’s true when you wave the white flag of surrender before negotiations even begin.

So drink it down and enjoy the sweet taste while you can.  It won’t last.

Jane Chastain is a Southern California-based broadcaster, author and political commentator. Despite her present emphasis on politics, Chastain always will be remembered as the nation’s first female TV sportscaster, spending 17 years on the sports beat. Chastain blogs at


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