Trump And The Democrats: A Meaningful Relationship Or A Short-Term Fling?

Sep 18, 2017

President Trump surprised a lot of Republicans and Democrats over the last few weeks by backing plans proposed by Congressional Democrats. But it's unclear how long the trend will last. 

Two weeks ago, he agreed to a plan backed by Congressional Democrats to raise the nation's debt ceiling and provide relief for victims of hurricane Harvey with no other budget stipulations.

The same dynamic happened last week when the president announced that he had the outline of a deal with House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer to protect young undocumented immigrants from being deported.

Rep. Peter Welch thinks Trump has come to the realization that the leadership style of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan will not yield the president any meaningful legislative victories.

"The Republicans have handcuffed themselves and this is something that Speaker Ryan has accepted where they'll only put legislation on the floor if they can pass it with just Republican votes,” said Welch. “The consequence is they can't negotiate with Democrats who might be willing to reach a reasonable outcome.”

There are 240 Republican members in the House and roughly three dozen are members of the conservative Freedom Caucus. Welch says this development sets up an unworkable situation for Speaker Ryan.

"It means that the far right Freedom Caucus folks basically have a veto say over what legislation will get on the floor and what the design of that legislation will be,” said Welch.

"It means that the far right Freedom Caucus folks basically have a veto say over what legislation will get on the floor and what the design of that legislation will be." — Rep. Peter Welch

And Welch thinks Trump is now turning to the Democrats in an effort to advance his political agenda.

"I think you're seeing the president recognize the just utter dead end and doomed scenario that occurs when you give that kind of veto power to a very small very radical element of the House," said Welch. 

Norwich University political science professor Ted Kohn thinks the alliance between the president and the Democrats will be short  lived.

That's because Kohn says Trump, with his business background, is viewing congressional leaders more as mid level managers in his own private company.

"I have great skepticism that any kind of an alliance between the Democratic leadership and Donald Trump is going to be sustainable at all." — Ted Kohn, Norwich University

"And of course government doesn't work that way and you can't really fire McConnell and Ryan so what did he do?” said Kohn. “He turned to two other managers to replace them and that was Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer." 

Kohn says the Democratic leaders are in a very tricky situation because he says Trump will turn on the Democrats if they strongly object to some of the president's policies.

"If the Democrats dare to disagree with the president, if they criticize the president which there are going to be ample opportunities to do so, Trump as we have seen will turn on them like a wet cat you know hissing and spitting."

And Kohn says the Democratic leaders could also face some stiff opposition from within their own caucus if they agree to Trump's demand to beef up security along the Mexican border.

"That is not going to play well with the Democrats own base so they need to be very very careful and wary going forward,” said Kohn. “Again I have great skepticism that any kind of an alliance between the Democratic leadership and Donald Trump is going to be sustainable at all."

Kohn says the next big test of the alliance between Trump and the Democratic leaders will likely come when Congress reviews the details of the president's tax reform plan. He questions if the two sides will be able to reach an agreement on the basic principles of this issue.