Donald Trump

Republicans Want to Talk Tax Reform. Trump's Outbursts Mean They're Talking About Nazis.

President Trump's outbursts are making governance impossible


Chris Kleponis/CNP/AdMedi/SIPA/Newscom

Typically, the president of a party that controls the White House and both chambers of Congress is the leader of any major legislative push. But with Donald Trump, the opposite is true. Rather than guiding the legislative process, he is its chief impediment.

To understand just how difficult Trump's antics have made it for Republicans to pursue policy reforms, consider the interview that Bloomberg News conducted with Rep. Kevin Brady on Wednesday. Brady is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and a leading figure in the GOP's push to overhaul the tax code, the next major item on the party's legislative agenda. The interview was timed to coincide the 31st anniversary of the last time Congress agreed to pursue tax reform legislation. Brady was there to talk about taxes.

He ended up talking about Nazis.

"I strongly condemn the white supremacists, the KKK, the neo-Nazis and the violence and hatred they bring to this," Brady said in the interview. That's not exactly the pullquote you want to come out of an interview on tax policy.

Brady, of course, had to make this statement in the midst of an interview ostensibly about tax reform because it had proven so difficult for President Donald Trump to make a similar condemnation following a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned deadly over the weekend. A woman protesting the rally was killed when a car, allegedly driven by a man with white supremacist sympathies, plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters at speed.

The chaos surrounding Trump's presidency has ground the legislative process to a halt, and made traditional governance all but impossible. And in the process it has revealed the emptiness at the core of the president, whose only real focus is and always has been crude self-promotion.

Trump's initial reaction, to weakly blame violence "on many sides," generated enough pushback, including from fellow Republicans, that he gave a brief statement on Monday specifically denouncing white supremacist groups — a follow-up that he reportedly resisted staff pressure to deliver. But in an angry press conference on Tuesday, Trump doubled down on his initial position, declaring that there was "blame on both sides."

Tuesday's press conference was itself a prime example of the way that Trump's belligerence, inexperience, and combative demeanor have combined to make any sort of discussion virtually impossible. The event was supposed to be a no-questions affair about streamlining the infrastructure permitting process, but Trump, reportedly against the wishes of his staff, decided to take questions instead, making it clear, in the process, that Monday's clean-up statement was delivered grudgingly.

This is not a problem that is being forced on the president. It is a problem that is a direct result of his own choices. It is Trump's fault, and Trump's alone.

The fallout from the Tuesday press conference didn't just interrupt Kevin Brady's plan to tout tax reform. It also led to the breakup of Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum, a group of high-profile corporate executives that had been formed to provide the new president with guidance on policy. Following Trump's response to the events in Charlottesville, several CEOs stepped down. Others plotted a harsh response to Trump. Finally, the entire council was disbanded. Plans for another planned council of CEOs, intended to focus on infrastructure, were scrapped yesterday.

This is the way it has been with Trump since the beginning. During the campaign, his total inability to discuss policy, and his penchant for odious remarks, meant that Republicans ran a primary and then a general election campaign almost entirely divorced from substantive discussion of policy issues.

He gleefully touted Trump-branded products like Trump Steaks that didn't actually exist, and chewed through hours of live television airtime, but rarely if ever discussed policy on its merits, preferring to engage in endless presidential flame wars instead. The only "issue" that ever held his attention was Trump himself. That hasn't changed. And it has had consequences.

After taking office this year, Trump repeatedly stepped on Republican efforts to pass health care legislation. He urged wary GOP lawmakers to pass the bill, but could not defend or explain it. On the contrary, he called it "mean." He ramped up tensions with holdout legislators, and in general made the process more difficult whenever he got involved. The process ended when a trio of Senators voted not to proceed, one of whom was John McCain, who Trump derided on the campaign trail as "not a war hero."

It's instructive to compare Trump administration's near-silence on the specific merits of GOP health care legislation — the president never made a strong case for the plan — with its quick and full-throated response this week. A few hours after Trump's press conference outburst, the White House sent out a sheet of talking points, beginning with the words "the president is entirely correct."

More than half way through the first year of his presidency, Trump has achieved no major legislative victories, even with his own party controlling both chambers of Congress. The rest of his agenda has stalled as well, because Trump has nearly every moment proven an impediment and a distraction. Even Trump's executive orders on immigration have been held up in court in part because of the president's tweets. At no point has Trump demonstrated that he has the focus or attention span to pursue conventional policy goals.

Indeed, the founder of the Journal of American Greatness, perhaps the most prominent publication dedicated to advancing and exploring Trump's specific policy agenda, came out strongly against the president this week, arguing that the president's "actions are jeopardizing any prospect of enacting an agenda that might restore the promise of American life." Even those in favor of something like a Trump agenda are realizing that Trump himself is not a vehicle by which to accomplish it.

At this point, it is probably a mistake to think of Trump as having a traditional policy or governing agenda at all. Instead, he is demonstrating his true interests every day with his belligerent tweets and inflammatory statements and obsessive self-aggrandizement. Trump's true agenda? You're witnessing it.

NEXT: A Free Country Can Do Without a Conscience in Chief

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  1. What crap. They won the Presidency and retained controlled of Congress 9 months ago. They are just now wanting to talk about tax reform and can’t because the President isn’t baby-sitting them?

    Perhaps the GOP ought to nominate some candidates who don’t need direct daily supervision to do their jobs? And then those people can select Speaker who isn’t a liberal policy wonk who is floating ridiculous ideas about making the tax code more complicated with nonsense like a border tax.

    1. Dead on. A grown-up congress critter would let Trump chase his tail and simply get on with legislation.

    2. ‘Reform’ will not mean what you would like it too.

      1. No doubt, but I’m mostly commenting on the implications of the headline of this story.

    3. Absolutely, if they get it done Trump will sign it. Many have been exposed as not really wanting to repeal Obamacare, they want control of your health decisions as much as democrats with McCain preferring to poke Trump in the eye rather than vote for repeal. Border taxes, revenue neutral? That is not a party of smaller less intrusive government.
      In a different context Churchill said “Americans will do the right thing after they have tried everything else” maybe there will be an awakening to the founding principles of individual and economic freedom.

    4. They’re worried about 2018.

      1. I get that. However, being the do nothing Congress both when you control all branches and when you don’t isn’t a ringing endorsement. As bad as I hate what Pelosi accomplishes between senile moments, she gets shit done.

      2. The anti-Trump #Resistance! will be out to get them no matter what. What they need to worry about is their own voters giving up on them in disgust and staying home.

      3. The 2018 primaries are going to be fun. That’s what they should be worried about.

    5. Repeal and replace didn’t go so well, and that was before Charlottesville.

    6. This is indeed Congress’s fault. They should ignore the media’s trolling of Trump.

    7. I can’t even, the media is the culprits keeping Trump from accomplishing his agenda for America. The media pushed the Trump Russia lie into the ground and it finally subsided because there was never anything there. Then it was Trumps campaign team, then it was something else, now it is a Nazi thing. The media have been ordered to keep Trump occupied so that he cannot accomplish his domestic agenda. If you cannot see that then you have a real problem. Of course Trump could issue EO’s like Obama did and get things done, but that would be unconstitutional. Unlike Obama Trump follows the rule of law. If Trump has to defend himself at every turn how is he supposed to get anything done? Please answer that question.

      1. This is why we need to revive the HUAC and start putting subversive media people behind bars wherever possible. And not just them. There are progressives engaged in marxist activities all over the US that should be put away.


  2. ‘Reform’ is just a word used for passing more laws on top of laws. Congress needs to repeal many laws. If Trump is stopping the passage of new laws it’s fine by me.

  3. The rag doesn’t fall far from the sheet.

    1. Sounds suspiciously racist….

      1. He does.

  4. This is an example of why I wish the GOP would not fall into the trap of feeling like they have to constantly talk/defend/distance themselves from Trump’s comments.

    We know he isn’t a very nice person. We know he says – and will continue to say – stupid things.

    Get over it. Ignore what he says, in the same way a family learns to shrug and not get bogged down with their crazy uncle at Thanksgiving. Just shrug, and move on. Don’t give him the pleasure of knowing that he tweets and we jump.

    We don’t need every GOP member of Congress putting out their own statements, they ought to just release a generic ‘Trump is not a nice person, and we don’t agree with what he has said’ statement and stay focused on things that really matter.

    If they don’t, then they’re going to have to spend every day going through the same motions, as we can pretty much predict that Trump will say or do something dumb. And that will be dump on their part.

    1. I wish they could, but the press wouldn’t let them even if they tried. They have to build support for many of their initiatives, or at the very least be able to explain them to the public (which usually involves the press). So, they have an interview about, say, tax reform, and get questioned about whatever craziness Trump is on about. Kind of takes them off message.

      Even if they put out a general “yeah, that Trump guy is crazy” statement, the press would circle back with “yeah, we know he was crazy, but THIS crazy?”

      1. Then they flood the news with ‘Bipartisan agreement that Trump is crazy! When will this lunatic be removed from office?’

        The reason why Trump won’t stop talking about Charlottesville and Nazis is because that is the only thing the media wants to ask him about. Now, a few stories are starting to filter in that yeah, Trump was actually right, and there were actually violent communists in Charlottesville, too, but they got a week of “TRUMP IS A NAZI LOVER!’ headlines out of it.

      2. They have to be able to explain them, true, but if the media don’t want to report it?which translates to people’s not wanting to hear about it?then just go ahead & legislate “in secret”.

  5. Yeah, the same party that ran on a lie for seven years is going to do tax reform.

  6. Meanwhile, back in the real world, Reason still occasionally writes about actual news:

    “The White House has announced it will end Operation Choke Point, an Obama-administration program that discouraged banks from doing business with “risky” customers.”

    Thank you President Trump!

    He’s an awful president, but so far he’s been less awful than his two predecessors.

    1. The dude in office for the past seven months has been less bad than the dudes in office for the preceding 16 years.

      Strong statement there guy.

      1. Depressing, isn’t it?

    2. So Trump wants banks to make even riskier loans than Obama did?
      What could possibly go wrong?

      1. So Trump wants banks to make even riskier loans than Obama did?

        That’s not what Operation Chokepoint was about.

        Operation Choke Point was initially pitched as a crackdown on web-based payday lending businesses that lend into states that prohibit it. Now it may have overreached into the wrong industry by targeting those in porn, wrote Iain Murray at National Review. Unlike, say, online gambling sites or Internet pharmacies, making pornography is a protected First Amendment activity.

        Also constitutionally protected, obviously, is buying and selling firearms?but businesses selling ammunition and guns are also on a list of potentially high-risk businesses that banks should look out for.

        Basically it was about cutting off businesses that engage in “wrongthink” from the banking system by going after banks that do business with them and forcing them to close their accounts.

        1. Cynical, no, you are wrong. the choke point EO was to punish lending institutions from doing business with gun dealers and manufacturers. Trump is correct in canceling that unconstitutional EO.

  7. “Typically, the president of a party that controls the White House and both chambers of Congress is the leader of any major legislative push. But with Donald Trump, the opposite is true. Rather than guiding the legislative process, he is its chief impediment.”

    Based on the results of his efforts to guide the legislative process through Obamacare repeal efforts, maybe we should consider his non-leadership a positive for tax-reform efforts.

    1. “Typically, the president of a party that controls the White House and both chambers of Congress is the leader of any major legislative push.”

      Typically, the ruling party supports its President. That’s not happening. Libertarians who have paid attention to the record of greed and corruption of Congress are not surprised. Is Reason?

      1. Reason is indeed surprised to learn that Presidents can be outsiders within their own party, especially when they were a member of the ‘opposition’ party for the vast majority of their lifetime. This is because, as a general rule, few of their writers seem to know much about history.

        Kind of like when the government shutdowns over the debt ceiling were going on, it appeared that some Reason authors were unaware of Jimmy Carter.

  8. Well I came here to make wisecracks about Trump’s absurd string of political successes due entirely to his gleeful fueling of bad press.

    But then I kept reading and I have to say this article isn’t that bad. With a decent description of Trump’s response, and personality generally, and the author throwing around fancy words like “allegedly” when describing events.

  9. The chaos surrounding Trump’s presidency has ground the legislative process to a halt, and made traditional governance all but impossible. And in the process it has revealed the emptiness at the core of the president, whose only real focus is and always has been crude self-promotion.

    So the chaos surrounding Trump has ground the legislative process to a halt, huh? Well, good.

    That being said, are we seriously blaming the President here for the antics of minority Democrats, Republicans who want to escape being blamed for the ACA, and the race baiting media? Sorry, that’s a bridge too far. Lets blame him for the stupid shit he’s actually done, shall we?

    1. Exactly. If Trump had come out immediately after the incidents and said exactly what Suderman and the MSM etc. insist that he should have said, they would have moved the goalposts and said it still wasn’t enough.

      If you ask me, his mistake is trying to please the MSM etc in the first place. They’re going to attack him regardless of what he does.

      1. That’s why he should Just. Shut. Up.

      2. Trump said, in different words, pretty much exactly what everyone else is saying in that both sides are assholes. He’s just such a bastard that nothing will or can be enough to satiate the media and Democrat cries for blood.

        Frankly I don’t get the whole idea that the President needs to say a damn thing about this or that group that does this or that thing. Like, when did the Office of President become this talking head that has to say something about every manufactured crisis that comes along?

        It seems to me that the Governor of the state should be held accountable for this kind of shit, yet somehow it’s all on Trump? Please. This would be a national issue if someone had blown something up, maybe, but this doesn’t even rise to the level of the L.A. Riots or the BLM march in Dallas where police were sniped.

    2. “The chaos surrounding Trump’s presidency has ground the legislative process to a halt,”

      Bullshit. Last time I looked, Congress was in charge of passing and repealing laws. You know, running the legislative process. Congress could put almost any kind of tax cut (lower the rates!) in front of Trump and he’d sign the bill. But no, what we really need is “reform.” Bullshit.

      1. This. The GOP is quite obviously not interested in putting forward anything that Trump might be interested in signing.

    3. It’s gridlock by incompetence and virtue signaling. Which is still gridlock, and that’s fine.

    4. Lets blame him for the stupid shit he’s actually done, shall we?

      That’s the point of the article. Trump’s sole purpose in life is – keep the spotlight focused on me. Enough about you. Let’s talk about me.

      Personally I’m not sure anymore that that’s a bad thing. Maybe the way to MAGA is to have our Prez be an exhibitionist monkey flinging poo and yanking his weewee. Maybe we are so useless as a people that if we were ever to concentrate on doing something better, that we’d screw it up and make it worse. So we should just watch the Look at MeFlingPoo Show and stop feeling so guilty about it.

  10. 7.5 MORE YEARS, cuck !

  11. Good thing reason has kept a laser sharp focus on policy this past week and not gotten tied up in social signalling. It’s an oasis in a sea of Nazis.

  12. Classic bait and switch argument. Confuse the reader by attaching your wildly unsupported claim to strong, evidence-based arguments for a different claim.

    Headline and most of the article decry Trump’s “outbursts” and “odious remarks”, but really the crux of Suderman’s complaint is that he DIDN’T make the remark Suderman wants him to make.

  13. I’m really starting to detest the word “reform.”

    Just cut the rates already, GOP. But of course, that’s not what you’re trying to do.

    1. Indeed, ‘reform’ appears to be a code word for ‘choose the form of your destructor’.

      They both want to rule every aspect of our lives, one of them just wants to do it a little bit differently.

      I have no sympathy left for Republicans.

      1. And what of libertarians opposed to medicaid reform or supportive of a ubi?

        The reality is that it’s all culture war all the time. And that’s just the way the statists want it, because then no one has to look at the hard, cold numbers or try to logically reconcile governing principles.

        1. No offense, but in my opinion if you support a UBI you’re no libertarian.

          1. *I want to make a note that I’m not under the impression you specifically support one, it’s a generalized statement.

  14. “Making it impossible to govern” — how is this a bad thing? How is this *ever* a bad thing?
    Governance is what got us into the mess, not what will get us out.

    1. This is a silly reaction. The government continues to extract taxes, fuck up health care, etc while Congress is doing nothing. It’s not like their inability to pass bills causes liberty to increase.

      The serial killer doesn’t mind the bars on the windows when he’s already in your house.

      1. Its not like they’re going to be able to fix it. Their one and only tool is the hammer of increasing the state’s power. Don’t confuse a bill’s title and the rhetoric spewn around it for what it will actually accomplish.

        1. Then how were they able to cut marginal tax rates 35 & 55 yrs. ago? How were they able to deregulate interstate transport’n? How did they end the draft? How did they get out of Vietnam? How’d they legalize gold? I could go on & on like this.

          1. They ended the draft? Weird, then, that it still exists.

            Not that your points are bad points, but let us not pretend that the government reserves the right to make us fight for their amusement and profit if they so choose.

  15. Look, when we said we preferred Trump over Clinton because Trump wouldn’t be able to get anything done we meant *wouldn’t be able to get anything done*.

    There’s bad that comes with that good but overall, I’ll take 4 years of paralysis over an increase in the scope of the state any day. And yeah, the GOP is pushing a tax reform bill that won’t get through under Trump – it would have died under Clinton too.

    1. So progress can never be made, only losing as slowly as possible?

      1. They got rid of goddamn slavery in this country (& elsewhere), 1st of whites, then of everybody else. If they can fix that, they can fix anything.

        1. Progress can be made with great sacrifice, as you seem to note, but until then it’s losing as slowly as possible as you say.

          The momentum of our age is in the statist direction. There is no denying that fact.

        2. Yeah, progress was made – at the expense of destroying and then rebuilding the country. In a form that was even more susceptible to instituting slavery – just by degrees this time.

          No, they can’t fix *anything* and the problem is they won’t recognize that.

        3. Robert, you might want to think that through a little more… Currently, every single person in this country is a virtual slave to the people who collect and spend the various taxes and administer the various regulations and “laws” that limit or destroy their productivity. (Hint… all of them.) The power to tax (and regulate) is the power to destroy. The power to enslave.

          If you don’t call that slavery, perhaps you have just not really considered it enough. Unfortunately, the slavers get away with it because people have so long been brainwashed into believing that the non-voluntary government actually has some legitimate authority to tax, spend and regulate. So, it’s not going to end until people generally decide that they don’t want to be slaves any longer, and take back their individual lives and property. Big job… not going to be easy. But I suspect it is coming.

  16. every day a law doesn’t pass and I don’t have to use my A-K is a good day

  17. The chaos surrounding Trump’s presidency has ground the legislative process to a halt, and made traditional governance all but impossible.

    Every cloud has a silver lining.

    1. Right? Its more entertaining than your usual gridlock too. What we need is not a govt more serious about governing.

  18. Trump’s doing the same thing everyone else is, saying on social media or out loud, ain’t this awful? But then the media can’t let it go, saying he’s not lamenting the right kind of awful. So to the extent people are getting bogged down, it’s not Trump’s fault.

  19. Hogwash. The Democrats want to talk about Nazis and Fascists and Hate Speech, and will do their damnedest to monopolize the conversation. And the Republicans are so habituated to the Democrats controlling the debate that they will fall in with it. If they had some guts (which they don’t) they would tell the Democrats “You want to control the debate, win more elections. We control both houses. We’re going to debate what we damn please, and you can go whine to your toadies in the media.”

    Pity. But Trump’s tweets have nothing to do with it. If Trump stayed resolutely silent, the Democrats would STILL be wild to talk about white supremacist assholes…and will be until the Republicans get the sand to tell them “Stop idolizing sadistic swine like Che and we’ll talk. Maybe.”

  20. Yeah, as a libertarian, I do think the government should get more done.

    1. I agree, it should be shrinking at a much more accelerated rate.

  21. The last time I remember a politician talking at length about policy, it was Ross Parot, and he was denounced as a racist for saying, “You people,” in the speech.

    The media’s spin on the right will be the same no mater what they say. Republicans in Congress have to grow up and debate bills on Capital Hill instead of waiting for reporters to like them. Reporters will never like them. Colleges trained them to hate Republicans.

  22. The spin in the media after Ross Parot referred to the audience as “you people” at an NAACP event:

    In Living Color Sketch

  23. Trump isn’t stopping the experienced GOP elites from doing anything. They are experience politicians who know how to sidestep a question and get their points through. That is what I am told. They can’t get anything done because they do not want to. He will sign what they give him and they still can’t manage it. Why isn’t your homework done, well Trump tweeted something about how Nazi Pelosi is a senile old crone. Just couldn’t get it done Ma!

  24. You have it backwards. The media keeps pushing the Nazi narrative. Trump is just answering his critics. The media’s goal is to keep Trump occupied so that he cannot get his agenda through. If the media was so concerned about domestic issues, then why do they keep bashing Trump on the Nazi thing? Does the media have a hidden love affair with Nazi’s?

  25. Why don’t rational politicians call out the left for what they are now, raving lunatics? Any person not blind does know that both sides in Charlottesville were dickheads and the violence was not a one way street. Trump called it like it was and the right put their tails between their legs and kissed the ass of the left as usual. Why do people put a party in power? To get things done that they support. I am sick of the hysterical left and those obstructionists on the right that block what was voted for. What is the point of having a majority if you don’t use it to your benefit? I hope many voters at home rethink their representatives.

    1. “Rational politicians?” How funny. I’ve been watching this circus for more than 50 years and I’ve never seen any sign of a “rational” politician. They are all raving lunatics. Some just hide it more successfully than others.

      I seriously rethought my whole notion of politics after many years working with the Libertarian Party. I discovered that while the Rs and Ds are the two wings on the same bird of prey, the LP was working just as hard to be the tail feathers. All politicians have a wonderful plan for your life and property, and they truly want you to believe that what you want and need is any part of that… But they all lie.

      Let’s make a test. Go up to any politician, anywhere, and tell them that you own your life, and are the only one responsible for that life and your safety. He/she might even make sounds seeming to agree with that (not likely), but they will never lift a finger to facilitate that by getting the non-voluntary government out of the way. So much for rational “representation.”

  26. I don’t claim to understand Trump, but the media’s outbursts and hyperventilation up to now has done a great deal more to torpedo the GOP tax agenda than Trump, not that the MSM would ever want it to succeed, given that the sitting president has the infernal arrogance of being in the wrong party. But the elephant in the room is the usual confusion by congressional Republicans, something that Trump is the least qualified guy to fix, The last GOP president was only good at getting crappy bills passed, so this on balance little more than business as usual. Is Reason going to whine about it? Of course.

  27. The one thing I have learned from reading Reason, is that Party affiliations are useless. Because in the end The Establishment always wins.

  28. “Typically, the president of a party that controls the White House and both chambers of Congress is the leader of any major legislative push….”

    One might think a ‘libertarian” site would prefer that the head of the executive branch not be the leader of any legislative push.

    1. In fact, Trump is turning out to be a great libertarian president: it doesn’t look like he is going to pass much of anything. And ACA will just die on its own.

  29. This is one sorry congress on the republicans side. Democrats are doing pretty much as expected but, the republicans are as useless as they could possibly be.

  30. because it had proven so difficult for President Donald Trump to make a similar condemnation following a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia

    It wouldn’t have made any difference what Trump said. He could have read out an MLK speech and progressive activists would still have torn him apart. It’s what they do. Read Alinsky.

    On top of that, Trump pretty much said what probably most people are thinking: to hell with both white supremacists and anti-fa, they are both violent extremists.

  31. Great post , thanks for sharing

  32. The party of limited government has been poisoned with the marxist pill. Years of socialist indoctrination in public and private schools has taken its toll.

    Cultural marxism (he doesn’t deserve a capital letter) has infested nearly every campus and thus Human Resources department. The left has gone off the deep end and has TDS real bad and it seems as if there is no cure. Just a vigilant citizenry that is armed and willing to fight for what little freedom we have left. Certainly, no thanks to the socialist god FDR, we no longer have the right to be left alone since he passed the socialist security law – a mandated government ID for tracking and controlling purposes.

    I did not vote for Trump but one who defends our right to keep and bear arms is far preferable to a crazed commie bitch like comrade Clinton.

    I prefer peace but if war is necessary, the socialists will lose. Their idea of a fight is a mob with baseball bats and chains

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