Reports are flying across mainstream media that Republicans in DC are “baffled” by the President’s Tweet this morning about Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). To be fair, there’s definitely room for misunderstanding.
CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2018
Republicans are using CHIP funding as a negotiating tool to push forward a stopgap measure to keep the government funded. It’s a PR move; Republicans want to be able to say the Democrats voted against helping needy children if they oppose the stopgap measure.
There are three reasons the President would have Tweeted this:
- He isn’t aware that GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are using the 6-year extension as leverage to keep the government funded.
- He wants a government shutdown.
- He doesn’t believe they need to play that particular “chip” for a 30-day extension and would prefer they save it for a long-term government funding deal.
Most in the media and apparently a handful of Republicans on Capitol Hill are going with option 1:
President Trump undermined his own party’s plan to avert a looming government shutdown on Thursday after tweeting that a key Democratic bargaining chip shouldn’t be attached to the funding package.
The 17-word tweet threw Capitol Hill into a state of confusion ahead of what is already expected to be a tight vote in the House on Thursday night. Republicans on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue were trying to decipher what exactly the president meant by declaring that a popular children’s health-care program should be part of a “long term solution” as opposed to a “30 Day, or short term, extension.”
A handful of pundits on both sides of the aisle are going with option 2. They’re taking into account past comments by the President saying a shutdown wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. Some conservatives support this idea. Most Democrats think it makes him evil (though they didn’t have the same reaction when the government was shut down during President Obama’s watch). They see the President as truly trying to undermine the process and force a shutdown.
The truth is option 3. He believes a 6-year extension on an extremely popular program is being wasted on a 30-day deal. He wants to save the “CHIP chip,” so to speak, for a long-term government funding deal that would extend beyond the election.
To some extent, he’s correct. The challenge is in logistics and uncertainty. Had the GOP pushed forward a 6-month CHIP funding extension as part of the deal with the understanding that a longer extension would be worked into the long-term funding plan, they’d be in better shape. In fact, making it a 6-month extension puts it in the spotlight ahead of the real push for a long-term plan. It would add a sense of urgency. Now, they’re wasting it to buy themselves another month. Unfortunately, the 6-year promise is already on the table. It would be difficult to pull it back now.
Once again, the media completely misses the point the President is trying to make and hopes others will fall for it. The sad thing is many Republicans in DC are among those falling for the media’s trickery. Just get the deal done and stop worrying about the President’s Twitter account.