President Trump is a deal maker at heart. After all, he wrote a book called The Art of the Deal. So is it really a surprise to anyone that President Trump has reached out to the Democrats in Congress to make deals?
Last week Trump reached agreement with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, the leaders of the Democrats in the Senate and House respectively, on an arrangement to raise the debt ceiling and provide hurricane relief funds. Last night, Schumer and Pelosi announced that they had reached agreement with President Trump on a legislative solution to the status of the so-called DREAMers — children brought to America by illegal immigrant parents who have grown up in this country and who had been protected from deportation under Obama Administration policies. According to the Democratic leaders, they and Trump agreed to pursue bipartisan legislation to protect the children from deportation in exchange for Democratic support of border security enhancements. Schumer and Pelosi say the border security enhancements don’t include supporting Trump’s long-touted wall along America’s southern border; the White House says that excluding the wall was not part of the agreement. It seems clear, however, that some kind of bargain was struck.
These recent announcements give some people the willies. Rock-ribbed conservatives can’t stand the sight of Schumer and Pelosi, and the idea of actually sitting down and cutting a deal with them is anathema. And lurking underneath the discomfort is a concern that, in the President’s zeal to make a deal, principles that are considered important to the conservative position might get thrown overboard. And part of the subtext of that concern, I think, is the belief that President Trump isn’t exactly a master of the details who fully appreciates the significance of negotiating points, and as a result the President might be getting fleeced by savvy Democrats without fully appreciating it.
President Trump’s willingness to have these kinds of talks shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Deal makers want to make deals. In the real estate development world, deal makers always want to have some new project to promote, and part of the process is to create a feeling of momentum and movement. The key goal is to get the deal done, and you commonly sacrifice on deal points and financing terms and other provisions to reach that goal. Deal makers believe that nobody gets everything they want, but that ultimately the deal itself serves the greater good for everyone involved.
Of course, not every deal turns out to be a good one for all concerned, and politics isn’t quite like a big real estate development. There are people out there who believe fervently in principles, and when those principles get casually tossed aside in the interest of cutting a deal they aren’t happy. But polling results commonly indicate that the American people want their political leaders to get along and avoid things like government shutdowns because they can’t agree on raising the debt ceiling. President Trump’s willingness to cut deals may test whether that polling data really means anything. And if foreign leaders see evidence that just about any deal is possible, who knows what they might propose?
We’ve got a deal maker in the White House, folks, and deal makers make deals.