The president is useful to Republicans because he allows them to appear comparably less extreme than they actually are
An ambitious opening bid is a basic tactic of negotiation, basic enough that Donald Trump (or his ghostwriter, at least) wrote about it in The Art of the Deal: “My style of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward. I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing … Sometimes I settle for less than I sought, but in most cases I still end up with what I want.”
Trump’s draconian budget proposal has all the signs of a gambit designed to get what Trump, and his negotiating partners in Congress, really want, which is a slightly less draconian budget. So it’s cold comfort to its intended targets – the poor, the sick, many in rural red states Trump won – that the budget plan won’t pass in its current form. No president’s budget plan ever does. “Dead on arrival” is how John McCain described it, though his objection was that it does not shift enough money from welfare recipients to defense contractors.
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