Horowitz: Donald, Chuck, and Nancy

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


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Rob Horowitz

President Trump’s decision to reach across the aisle and cut a deal with his new best friends, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) last week was one of the few politically shrewd moves he has made since assuming the Presidency 7 months ago.

The deal itself was fairly modest: an agreement to support legislation that combined politically popular $15 billion of disaster aid in the wake of Hurricane Harvey with a 3-month increase in the debt ceiling.  Most political observers agree that the Democrats got the better of the arrangement, increasing their leverage to extract some policy wins in December when their votes will be required once again to gain adoption of a debt limit increase.  And in typical Trump fashion, he did it impulsively without giving either the Republican Congressional leaders or his own staff and cabinet members a heads-up.

But, it was a needed short-term win for President Trump as the deal went on to pass with large majorities in both the Senate and the House— breaking a logjam of stalled initiatives.

It also points the way to more consequential legislative success, if it signals a real change in what so far can only be characterized as a failed strategy. President Trump can win Democratic votes for an infrastructure program, tax reform and what would be a popular fix to Obamacare, if he is willing to compromise, move closer to the middle of the electorate and stop catering to the far right on all issues.

This populist—as opposed to traditionally conservative economic agenda—is actually more in line with the expectations he raised for working class voters that he would be the President for the "forgotten man.” It would give Trump an opportunity to increase his dismal approval ratings and shore up part of his increasingly wobbly base. He might lose a few conservative voters, but there is far more political upside than downside.

Additionally, showing a willingness to work with Chuck and Nancy from time-to-time will boost his diminishing influence with Republican Congressional leaders. He will by definition be less reliant on them and can use his increased flexibility to create more leverage.

This change in strategy would require President Trump to become more conversant with the details of legislation and issues and for the White House to dramatically upgrade their policy process—so they can produce their own initiatives and react intelligently to the legislative ideas of others.

Given what we have witnessed in the first 7 months, that is a tall order. For the good of the nation, however, I hope President Trump and his re-tooled White House staff demonstrate that they are up to it. Otherwise, this burst of bi-partisanship will be short-lived, and we will be back to what has been a truly awful status quo.


Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island


Related Slideshow: RI Democrats React to Trump Withdrawing from Paris Climate Agreement

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Gina Raimondo

RI Governor

I am deeply disappointed that the President has decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. Republicans and Democrats alike recognize that the Paris Agreement is about so much more than climate change. It’s about opportunity, stewardship and America’s standing as a global leader. 

President Trump’s action will not deter Rhode Island from taking necessary steps to address climate change. Our action at the state level will create new jobs and attract new investment in the green economy. 

We’ve set a goal to secure 1,000 MW of clean energy resources and double the number of clean energy jobs by 2020. Ocean State families and businesses are on the front lines fighting climate change. I will continue toward with the General Assembly and partners in other states to protect our environment and advance clean energy alternatives, while creating new opportunities for our workforce in the process. 

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Jim Langevin 

U.S. Congressman

President Trump’s ill-considered decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement puts the future of our entire planet at risk. The withdrawal represents an abandonment of pledges to protect our environment and risks undermining the entire accord, which includes nearly every country on earth. In addition, the President’s action cedes Unites States leadership and means losing a seat at the table to negotiate global agreements in our country's best interest.

The Obama Administration made significant progress toward slowing the rapidly warming climate by negotiating the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce greenhouse emissions on a global scale. Unwinding these commitments represents another assault by President Trump on the health of the public and the planet. His Administration continues to deny climate change despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that shows this is an ongoing human-caused crisis.

Rhode Island is on the front lines of sea level rise, and our citizens will ultimately pay the price for inaction today. Communities like my hometown of Warwick are particularly vulnerable to the storms and floods that come with climate change. Warming seas have chased our traditional catch out of our fisheries and threaten to decimate our beloved Ocean State coastline. Abandoning the Paris deal, the culmination of a multi-year effort by world leaders, is an abdication of our responsibility to leave the world a better place for our children.”

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Sheldon Whitehouse

U.S. Senator

“Donald Trump and his children said just a few years ago that climate change was ‘irrefutable’ and its consequences ‘catastrophic and irreversible.’ They were right. There is no denying the growing threat of rising seas, warming global temperatures, and melting glaciers and ice sheets. 

But we can still avoid the worst if we quickly reduce carbon emissions. That is why ignoring reality and leaving the Paris Agreement could do down as one of the worst foreign policy blunders in our nation’s history, isolating the U.S. further after Trump’s shockingly bad European trip. 

Trump is betraying the country, in the service of Breitbart fake news, the shameless fossil fuel industry, and the Koch brothers’ climate denial operation. It’s Sad. 

America’s biggest corporations and investors urged the President to stick with international efforts to address the climate threat. They and all of us will now have to proceed with a seriousness of purpose commensurate with the threat, knowing of this President’s grave defects. 

If you haven’t joined an environmental group, join one. If your voice needs to be heard, get active. If you are a big corporation with good climate policies that has shied away from engaging politically, it’s time to engage. And if you’re a university that teaches climate science, it’s time to stand up for your scientists. Whoever you are, help end climate denial and take action.”

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Jack Reed

U.S. Senator

“President Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris climate agreement is a blow to the environment that makes us a less secure nation. Our military, which spends every hour of every day thinking about how to protect Americans says climate change is a problem and a real threat multiplier. Indeed, climate change is an established part of the military’s threat and risk assessments.

The United States should continue to be a leader when it comes to protecting the planet; instead, the President is abdicating this responsibility. President Trump is unwisely putting the United States alongside Syria and Nicaragua in declining to be part of the Paris agreement. 

The American people deserve better.” 

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David Cicilline

U.S. Congressman

The President’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement is a terrible mistake. It will diminish American leadership in the world, undermine our ability to create good-paying jobs, and contribute to the further degradation of our environment. 

It is very disappointing that we now know, without question, that the President of the United Sates is a climate change denier. His decision today ignores the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding the serious consequences failing to address climate change. 

The only thing President Trump will accomplish by this decision is to set the United States and world back decades in this fight. I have no doubt that future generations are going to wonder what the hell we were thinking today”


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