What a dispiriting spectacle: with much of the country demanding effective action to control access to semiautomatic weapons in response to the latest school massacre, Republicans in Congress are yet again determined to block any significant action. Even with President Trump urging that something be done—he supports raising the age to buy one to 21—the response from Congress has been a complete stonewall.
They are of course concerned not to antagonize the NRA and GOP base (more or less the same set of people). As far-right as most of these members are, there can always be challengers even further right, and that’s what they fear. All this is in spite of the fact that gun ownership is only about one-third of the adult population, that NRA members are about a third or less of gun owners, and that most NRA members actually support more regulation of guns.
Trump will let it be known when he opposes something, but won’t propose something and stand behind it. That’s how he scuttled the deal on immigration, and how he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the failed attempt to repeal Obamacare.
Trump, who could lead on this and bring his supporters with him, is instead deferring to the timidity of his members of Congress. Rather than insist on some concrete proposal and push for adoption, he’s leaving it to the congressional GOP leadership.
This is in fact a pattern: Trump will let it be known when he opposes something, but won’t propose something and stand behind it. That’s how he scuttled the deal on immigration, and how he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the failed attempt to repeal Obamacare.
In fact, with control of the Presidency and both houses of Congress, the Republicans have managed only one major piece of legislation, the famous tax scam. Everybody could agree on cutting taxes for the rich and big corporations, they could sweeten it with smaller, temporary tax cuts for the middle class, and deficits be damned.
It is true that Trump’s executive branch is carrying out the right-wing agenda via regulatory means, whether in health care, education, or the environment. It will take years of Democratic control of both branches to undo the damage. Trump condemned Obama for overuse of regulation, but he’s dong the same thing—and for the same reason: that he can’t get anything through Congress. The difference is that this Congress is run by Trump’s party, and he still can’t pass anything.
He has, with Mitch McConnell’s help, packed the judiciary with dozens of right-wing judges who will plague us for decades.
Trump’s presidency will be consequential, indeed it already is. We must be thankful that he and his congressional partners are so incompetent, or it could be a lot worse.