WASHINGTON, September 8, 2017 — America’s political pundits seem to have achieved an almost unanimous consensus about President Trump’s recent actions on the Federal budget and on timely disaster aid.
Little of their commentary is positive: Trump betrayed his party; Trump sold out; Trump lied to the American people; Trump has no strategy. They are shocked, shocked.
There is, however, a rarely-heard minority view on this week’s surprising news out of Washington. It comes from people who understand the mind of a businessperson.
Trump reached a budget deal with Congressional Democrats to temporarily keep the government funded while providing aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey and the soon-to-be Florida victims of Hurricane Irma. It was the deal of a businessman, not a seasoned politician or a seasoned attorney.
Trump is results-oriented. Results are his number one priority, with everything else being secondary. He is focused on the bottom line. Political correctness, party loyalties, next year’s election and media optics are not usually on the mind of a businessman; results are, and the quicker the better.
A seasoned politician would have a different set of priorities. The politician is most concerned with the next election, party loyalty and media optics. Results can only be achieved when those priorities are satisfied; they are secondary.
Seasoned politicians carefully craft every word they plan to utter before stepping up to the microphone. Seasoned attorneys know how to prepare written statements so that their message is interpreted in the most favorable manner possible.
Trump is a businessman, not a politician. That is why so many people misunderstand him or Americans intent on achieving the results that he represents.
More than ever today, Americans want results. All Americans, including those still angry that Trump won, want results. That’s why Trump is more appealing than the endless negative polls suggest. That’s also why most people in the press misunderstand his behavior.
Trump is an intelligent man despite the lopsided, stereotyped media portrayal of him as a buffoon. He could never have achieved what he already has in his lifetime without a keen mind. Every move he makes is carefully calculated to get closer to his desired results, though his moves are often portrayed by the media as haphazard and impulsive.
With that in mind, it is easy to understand Trump’s recent actions. When he entered office, he believed that he would achieve results quickly with the eager cooperation of his party. After all, he had Republican majorities in both houses of Congress to back him up.
He said he wanted Congress to tackle the most serious and pressing problems first: replacing the rapidly collapsing Obamacare, and introducing a stimulatory, job creating policy. This would include both personal and corporate income tax cuts, including a one-time corporate tax cut on funds repatriated to the U.S. from foreign holdings.
Given President Obama’s eight-year rule by fiat, Trump could remove many of the Obama’s burdensome regulations by fiat. He could issue executive orders reversing Obama’s. But he couldn’t do that effectively without first attacking that first pressing issue, healthcare.
Seasoned politicians told him to take on the easy-to-pass agenda items first, like a new infrastructure bill. A pork-laden infrastructure bill would be good optics for the new president and would help win the 2018 off-year elections for Republicans. It would allow Trump to demonstrate loyalty toward those who supported him since he did, after all, promise to pass an infrastructure bill.
But that would not achieve the best results.
Instead, Trump told the GOP Congress to do as they promised: Repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The House just barely managed to do their part, but Republicans in the Senate dropped the ball. No result was achieved, and time was wasted for zero outcome. And now the situation with the failing ACA becomes more dire by the day.
A businessperson would not stand for this kind of outcome, nor could a real American business remain solvent under congressional-style management. After the failure in the Senate and during the August recess, Trump developed a new strategy to achieve results, knowing that a number of difficult items were still sitting on the Fall congressional agenda.
The most pressing immediate problem was the federal budget, which is supposed to be resolved prior to the beginning of the government’s fiscal year on October 1. Close behind was the urgent need to deal with the debt ceiling, also by early October.
That meant it wouldn’t be until mid-October that a Congress deeply divided by the budget and debt ceiling fights could even begin to discuss tax reform, health care or anything else. Very poor results, Trump reasoned. He determined that after Congress reconvened, he would have to move forcefully to get the budget and debt issues resolved quickly.
It would be difficult to find any position that would attract a majority of votes in in either house. But Hurricane Harvey presented a unique opportunity to achieve at least a short term consensus.
Harvey severely damaged our fourth largest city, Houston, and crippled the 8 percent of America’s oil and gas industry located there. The impact of that will ripple through our economy for months or years to come.
To solve both the budget and disaster aid problems, Trump decided to tie the budget and debt issues to the proposed Houston aid bill, which, he reasoned, would receive overwhelming bipartisan support.
Trump summoned the leaders of both parties to the White House. He listened to the GOP’s ideas and the Democrat’s ideas. The Democrats had a view that was more appealing and would be able to attract a bipartisan majority. The GOP position would not accomplish this.
To get the results he needed, he pragmatically sided with the Democrats, given his continuing frustration with his own party and the resulting lack of major results. His strategy worked. Both the House and the Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill in a bipartisan fashion.
Trump got his results. Moving ahead, he may very well find that working with moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats will yield good results in the future. After that, he will worry about political correctness, next year’s election, party loyalties and media optics.
Or maybe he won’t.