May 1, 2019

If you read this Axios story on Sunday, you could almost hear the sound of Lucy teeing up the football:

At last month's St. Patrick's Day lunch in the Capitol, President Trump told Richard Neal, the powerful Democratic chairman of the House's tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, that he wants to spend close to $2 trillion on infrastructure, according to two sources to whom Neal recounted his conversation.

...A former senior White House official told me that on infrastructure, Trump's instincts are much closer to Elizabeth Warren's than they are to his tight-fisted acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

... Trump meets on Tuesday with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to discuss infrastructure.... Democrats still take these meetings — in fact, Pelosi requested this one — because they know that, left to his own devices, Trump would happily spend a ton of federal money on infrastructure. (It's his own party that won't let him.)

The dirty secret — which multiple senior White House officials have confirmed to me — is that Trump hates the infrastructure plan his own White House released last year....

The heart of [the plan] was to build infrastructure through "public-private partnerships" — leveraging a modest amount of government spending to stimulate private investment in projects around the country.
Democratic leaders have no interest in public-private partnerships. Neither does Trump.... he has told aides he thinks they don't work and that they need to spend real federal money instead.

... Trump came into office imagining a presidency in which new projects — "built by the Trump administration" — would be erected all over the country, sources close to him tell me.

Trump doesn't like the Republican approach to infrastructure? Gosh, if only he had a powerful position in government that gave him the opportunity to assert his own preferences.

Look, for all I know, this may be true. But Trump won't throw his weight around and demand that aides and congressional Republicans do things his way unless he's told he's being insufficiently conservative by Fox, or unless the goal is keeping himself and his family members out of prison.

Neither of these exceptions applies to infrastructure. So why should Pelosi and Schumer even bother to meet with the president? They should tell him they'd like to meet, but he has to be prepared to tell Mulvaney (and Mitch McConnell) to piss off. Don't go to the White House hat in hand and beg Trump to do the right thing.

Politoco reports Tuesday:

Democrats head into the meeting with hopes of accomplishing two goals, according to an aide. First, they want to demonstrate their ability to work across party lines even as they investigate Trump. And leadership wants to allow House members, particularly Democrats in swing districts, to pursue legislation that isn’t destined for the graveyard of the GOP-led Senate.

But a real infrastructure bill is destined for the graveyard of the GOP-led Senate, so why bother?

Democrats should pass their own infrastructure bill in the House instead of groveling before Trump -- or perhaps they should pass one to their liking and then negotiate. But infrastructure isn't going to happen, so why keep trying to meet Trump partway? Pass a bill and show what could happen if Democrats controlled Washington.

I thought Democrats, after their takeover of the House, were going to pass a lot of legislation, just to show what they stand for, despite the fact that all or nearly all of it would die in the Senate. Beyond the voting-rights bill -- which wasn't an ideal choice because, even though it's important, it's not a kitchen-table issue -- there's been no high-profile legislation coming out of ther House. That's a mistake.

Write an infrastructure bill. Pass it. Then tell Trump he's cordially invited to get on board.

Republished with permission from No More Mr. Nice Blog

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