President Donald Trump on Wednesday continued to knock both parties off balance in the waning days of the 2018 mid-term campaign, as he publicly rebuked the Speaker of the House from his own party, vowed to send thousands more troops to the border with Mexico, backed off a pledge from last week to unveil a new tax cut plan, again predicted massive stock losses if Republicans lose control of Congress, and trolled Democrats on health care.
Other than a few comments about the birthright citizenship issue, most Republican lawmakers seemed to go out of their way in recent days to ignore the latest moves from the White House, posting photos and graphics on Wednesday via social media related to Halloween, their campaigns, local constituent meetings, visits to local schools, and almost anything other than what the President was talking about at the White House.
This is from GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri.
But the internet fun couldn’t obscure what was one of the odder days right before an election, as the President in one breath proclaimed that he was confident about the outcome of next week’s elections, and in the next breath was critical of the top Republican in the House.
1. Trump slams the Speaker of the House. While it might be entertaining for many conservative voters who don’t care for Speaker Paul Ryan, it was sort of an odd scenario to have the President attacking a Speaker of his own party less than a week before an election where the GOP could lose control of the House. In an interview on Tuesday, Ryan had said what most people on Capitol Hill believe – that President Trump does not have the administrative powers to change how children of illegal immigrants are eligible for U.S. citizenship if they are born in America. That did not please the President, who said Ryan ‘knows nothing’ about the issue, as he said the Speaker should be working on keeping the GOP majority. The irony is that when the Speaker made those comments, he was on the campaign trail doing exactly that.
2. Birthright citizenship push could endanger more GOP seats. While the President clearly sees the issue of limiting automatic citizenship for people born in the United States, so as to exclude the children of illegal immigrants as a positive for Republicans, that idea was not welcome news for some GOP candidates and lawmakers, who said the President was simply mistaken. “The President is wrong to end Birthright Citizenship,” said Bob Hugin, who is trying to knock off Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey. “I strongly disagree with the proposed executive order,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), whose district in the Miami area voted for Hillary Clinton over President Trump. The issue was a wild card from right field this week which clearly caught GOP lawmakers by surprise.
3. Number of troops heading to the border keeps going up. It started at 2,000 at the beginning of the week, went to over 5,000 on Tuesday, and then went up to 10-15,000 in the space of 48 hours, as the President told reporters Wednesday that he was ready to send a large number of active-duty soldiers to the Mexican border to deal with a caravan of immigrants that was still 1,000 miles away. “Nobody is coming in. We’re not allowing people to come in,” the President declared. “It’s a dangerous group of people. They’re not coming into our country.” Some Democrats urged their colleagues to say little about the President’s new military plans. “Don’t fall for it,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), “this is a trap,” as most Democrats took a page from the game plan of their GOP colleagues, and tried to say as little as possible about the President’s latest border plan.
4. Tax cut details punted into 2019. Last week, President Trump suddenly began talking about a new 10 percent tax cut for the middle class, saying it was going to be unveiled before the elections, and even talking about action in a Congress on a ‘resolution’ dealing with the issue, even though lawmakers aren’t back for votes on Capitol Hill until mid-November. “We are looking a major tax cut for middle-income people,” the President said on October 20. Asked about a time frame, Mr. Trump told reporters, “the first of November, maybe a little before that.” Well, the first of November is here, and there will be no tax cut details coming out of the Trump White House, as a joint statement issued Wednesday with House Republicans promised action on tax cuts, but gave no hint of any the fine print.
5. After month of stock losses, Trump says more to come if Democrats win. While the markets ended October with the first two day streak of gains this month, Wall Street ended the month with some deep financial losses. But President Trump predicted even larger losses if Democrats take control of the Congress in the November elections. “If the mid-terms for some reason don’t do so well for Republicans, I think you all are going to lose a lot of money,” the President said at an event on jobs and the economy at the White House. “I hate to say that, but I think you are going to lose at lot of money.”
6. Trump leaves Democrats spitting mad on health care. As Democrats vowed to keep the focus on issues like health care, President Trump continued to drive them nuts by proclaiming his support for a health system that protects people with pre-existing conditions. Democrats say the President is lying, and any other GOP lawmaker who repeats that assurance is lying as well. “They’re backing a lawsuit to end pre-existing condition protections,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). “Trump and Republicans continue to try and trick Americans with false claims,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). “You held a rally at the White House to celebrate the passage of a bill taking away protections for those with pre-existing conditions,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). “They can’t lie their way out of this,” added Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.
There are now just five days to go.