David Leonhardt has a bizarre idea of why Trump is now beholden to the Republican-controlled congress (“Weak Trump, Strong Paul Ryan,” The New York Times, 6/12/2017):
The biggest priority for today’s Congressional Republicans is shrinking the size of government so they can cut taxes for the wealthy.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, managed to win the presidency on an agenda that promised robust government programs in health care, retirement and other areas.
But as we know of Trump, his position on just about anything will change. He also won on a promise to put Hillary Clinton in jail, ban Muslims from entering the country, and courting the white nationalist underbelly of America.
Anyway, Leonhardt’s idea is that Trump’s noncommitment to any ideology other than the furtherance of himself made it questionable just how far ideologues like Paul Ryan could pull him to sign Republican legislation, especially because the proposed health care bill is the exact opposite of the lower premiums and universal coverage Trump pledged during his campaign. Leonhardt thinks the bubbling Russia scandal gives the Republican congress an edge. He quotes Paul Starr, a sociologist:
Donald Trump is now totally dependent on congressional Republicans to avoid impeachment and therefore has no choice but to be a cheerleader for their policies and to sign whatever legislation they send him.
But because, as Leondhardt admits, Trump is only interested in “winning” and has zero interest in assisting in crafting policy, there was never any reason to doubt Trump would sign whatever piece of garbage the Republican congress sent to him. As I wrote back in January:
Any legislation they (the Republican congress) want they can put in front of Trump, and chances are he’ll sign it.
And [McCain will] vote affirmatively for Trump’s other picks. And he, along with the Republican-controlled congress and soon-to-be conservative-controlled Supreme Court, will ram through their ultraconservative agenda, doing their best to dangle shiny objects in front of Trump long enough to get him to sign the bills he hasn’t read that are put in front of him.
We know Trump has signed executive orders without actually reading them, and that was before the majority of his scandals happened or started heating up. Trump was on board with the initial draft of the health care bill and lambasted the Freedom Caucus when they announced their opposition to it, causing Ryan to cancel a vote. He’s on board with this draft, too. That’s because Trump doesn’t care what’s in the bill; he only cares that it looks like he’s doing something. How any of the actual legislation he winds up signing actually affects people he doesn’t care about, and he would have wound up agreeing with whatever Paul Ryan put in front of him regardless of however many scandals he did or didn’t have. He’s that much of a simpleton.
Maybe that will change should the Russia scandal become completely unmanageable and evermore damning, but in that case Trump will be at the mercy of the Republican congress to not impeach him—Trump still would sign their legislation regardless, if they can ever manage to hand him some.