It's been almost eight months since Trump was sworn in yet he and his staff still haven't seemed to have learned an important lesson about American politics: The executive branch cannot treat Congress like the hired help because they do not work for Trump and his administration.
In a meeting on Friday morning, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin met with House Republicans to sell the three month debt ceiling/government spending extension Trump and the Democratic Party put together. The Mnuchin, personally worth about $300 million, thought it would a good idea to talk down to House Republicans.
“His performance was incredibly poor, and his last words, and I quote, were ‘vote for the debt ceiling for me,’” said Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, a group that opposed the bill.
“It was a very arrogant lecture that turned off more of the conference,” added another RSC member. “I’m less sold than when I walked into the meeting.”
Rep. David Brat (R-Va.), a Freedom Caucus member, called the comments "unhelpful" and "intellectually insulting."
Mnuchin's presentation was "about as well received as his wife's Instagram post," Rep. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) quipped to The Hill, referring to a recent controversy about social media posts by the Treasury secretary's actress wife.
Far be it from me to sympathize with Republicans but can you blame them? This is not the first time one of Trump's people has tried to hand orders down from on high. Bannon demanded House Republicans bend the knee on healthcare and they laughed in his face. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke tried to bully Alaskan Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan over Murkowski's healthcare vote. That earned him an investigation that only went away by the grace of the senators he threatened on Trump's behalf.
In this case, it feels like Mnuchin assumed the "little people" would fall in line because that's what the little people do. As an obscenely rich master of the universe, Mnuchin is used to snapping his fingers and getting what he wants, when he wants, how he wants. Outside the government, his money is enough to get any politician to fawn over him, but he's not outside the government anymore. As part of the executive branch, Mnuchin is just another bureaucrat as far as any member of the House is concerned. Strutting about like he can still command their obedience is a surefire way to get zero cooperation.
Maybe Trump shouldn't have larded his Cabinet with out of touch multi-zillionaire snobs?
Chances are that Republicans will go along with the bill if only to keep it from passing with minimal GOP votes. That would make them look weak at a time they can least afford it. But they will almost certainly make it clear that they're not signing on because of any loyalty to Mnuchin. He's not the boss of them until he's funding their campaigns again.
There are 423 days left to the 2018 elections.
- This article kills fascists
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