Opinion

Why any law signed by Trump will be permanently radioactive

Wake up, Congress: Trump will never give you what you so dearly want

The joke goes something like this: Congressional Republicans and President Trump can't stand each other, but they stay married because of the children — that is, the legislative goals they supposedly share in common. GOP leaders will pretend there's nothing to see here on the Russia investigation; they will ignore the half-cocked tweets; they will deflect any attempt to force Trump to release his tax returns; they will avert their gaze from the nepotism and the myriad conflicts of interest; they will endure charges of hypocrisy as Trump traduces long-held Republican principles on trade and American global leadership.

In short, Republicans will suffer all manner of Trump-induced indignities as long as he signs their damn bills into law.

What they don't seem to realize is that Trump's signature will settle nothing. In fact, Trump will not sign bills into law so much as he will taint them with the inescapable stench of Trump.

Consider first that two of the biggest things the GOP hopes to accomplish — cutting taxes for the wealthy and replacing ObamaCare with the American Health Care Act — are even less popular than the historically unpopular Trump. Under "normal" circumstances — say, a President Rubio or Bush — these efforts were going to be a heavy lift. Under Trump they may be impossible.

But let's just imagine that Trump and the GOP do manage to push these boulders up the hill. They get their bills signed into law — hooray!

Now imagine the toxicity of what would be known as "TrumpCare" and the "Trump tax cuts." His brand — his very name — is an albatross. If ObamaCare is today imperiled, and if George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans lasted fewer than 10 years, the provisionality of anything that bears Trump's taint will surely be even more acute.

Remember, these measures are already unpopular on the merits. Now they would also be saddled with Trump. Much of the country hates him. Much of the country wants him impeached. Heck, much of the country doesn't even accept that he's a lawfully elected president in the first place.

This liberal denial is melodramatic. But it's also illustrative of our political reality: No legislation signed by this president will be accepted as settled law by a not-inconsiderable plurality of the country that styles itself a "resistance" movement.

Laugh at this melodrama all you want, but Republicans can't deny the headwinds they're facing. The history of congressional midterms is on the side of the minority party. Retaking both chambers of Congress remains a long shot for Democrats, but they are poised for large gains in the House. The democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders is the most popular active politician in the country. A plurality of Republicans support single-payer health care. Americans are drifting from conservatives on most social issues.

Of course, the election of Trump last November made fools of most of us. So might any extrapolations from headwinds facing Republicans today. But it seems increasingly clear that congressional Republicans in the marital analogy employed above are being abused by their spouse: They're sticking around in the hope of reconciliation, only to receive more bruises.

To Paul Ryan and Co., I would say this: You may think Trump's pen is the key to your lifelong dream of overhauling the federal government in your image. But it's not. It's more like Esau's soup: a temporary meal that will cost you your soul.

More From...

Picture of Scott GalupoScott Galupo
Read All
The Fog of Trump is lifting
Donald Trump.
Talking Points

The Fog of Trump is lifting

Republicans' deficit hypocrisy comes home to roost
An elephant.
Opinion

Republicans' deficit hypocrisy comes home to roost

Hey, Democrats: Awful Lindsey Graham is your friend
Lindsey Graham.
Opinion

Hey, Democrats: Awful Lindsey Graham is your friend

I was wrong about Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney.
Opinion

I was wrong about Mitt Romney

Recommended

Jan. 6 Committee subpoenas Steve Bannon, Mark Meadows
Mark Meadows.
capitol riot aftermath

Jan. 6 Committee subpoenas Steve Bannon, Mark Meadows

White House to brace agencies for possible shutdown
Sunrise over Capitol building.
yikes

White House to brace agencies for possible shutdown

Why the Supreme Court's popularity suddenly matters
A broken gavel.
Picture of Joel MathisJoel Mathis

Why the Supreme Court's popularity suddenly matters

Psaki insists envoy to Haiti 'never' raised migrations concerns
Jen Psaki.
he said, she said

Psaki insists envoy to Haiti 'never' raised migrations concerns

Most Popular

7 cartoons about America's vaccine fights
Editorial Cartoon.
Feature

7 cartoons about America's vaccine fights

Did Theranos Lose Afghanistan?
Elizabeth Holmes and James Mattis.
Samuel Goldman

Did Theranos Lose Afghanistan?

Feds charge 2 GOP operatives with funneling Russian's money to Trump campaign
Ron Paul and Jesse Benton
Loose ends

Feds charge 2 GOP operatives with funneling Russian's money to Trump campaign