One of the pillars of Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement is the belief that Washington is a dysfunctional morass that the billionaire builder will clean up and get working again.
Longtime political activist Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition said in June that Trump told a gathering of evangelical leaders: “pray but you need to act. You need change, and this is your opportunity to see real change come to Washington.”
Reed said he believes that Trump “will disrupt the broken system in Washington, D.C., in a way that Hillary Clinton won't.”
But there are already signs that Trump, should he be elected President, would be on a collision course with a GOP Congress and that the government gridlock of the Obama years might not necessarily go away.
Yesterday in a speech in Milwaukee, House Speaker Paul Ryan broke with presidential nominee of his party over comments Trump has made about America’s role in NATO and said the U.S. should take the lead in free-trade agreements, according to the AP.
Calling NATO an “indispensable ally,” Ryan said that the U.S. relationship with the mutual defense organization “is as important now … as it’s been in my lifetime.” He also said he would strengthen NATO’s eastern front.
In an interview with The New York Times last week and then at a rally in North Carolina on Monday, Trump set off red alerts in the U.S. and Europe when he said he would think twice about coming to the aid of Baltic state members of NATO threatened by Russia if they hadn’t paid their fair share to maintain the alliance.
Trump has long railed against trade agreements such as NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and China’s U.S.-supported entry into the WTO (World Trade Organization) as deals that have robbed American workers of jobs.
The website Politifact says Trump is right about China’s entry into the WTO costing the U.S. millions of jobs but finds the effect of NAFTA on the country’s workforce to be more complex.
While trying to correlate Trump’s position on trade deals with his own stance – that free-trade partnerships are essential to the U.S. economy – Ryan said Tuesday, “"I'm for good trade agreements as well. We agree on that. We don't want bad trade agreements, we want good trade agreements."
But the differing positions of Trump and Ryan on trade and NATO are just two examples of how the Republican Party is presenting dueling agendas to the electorate. Trump’s off-the-cuff demands, pronouncements and proclamations frequently seems at odds with Ryan’s more detailed “Better Way,” which lays out what his website calls “our vision for a more confident America.”
As The Fiscal Times reported last month, Ryan and Trump part ways on immigration and the 40-foot-high wall the reality TV star wants to build on the border with Mexico; what to do about the nuclear agreement with Iran; and the most effective way to counter the nuclear threat from North Korea. They also split, according to The Hill, on banning Muslims from entering the country from certain points of origin, taxes; and changes in Social Security eligibility, eminent domain rules and Cuba policy. And yesterday Trump said he would back a $10 minimum wage, while Republicans in Congress have opposed any increase. So there’s plenty of potential for significant conflict between a Trump White House and a GOP-controlled Congress, even if they’re all technically from the same political party.