Over at Instapundit Ed Driscoll asks why Congress isn't getting more done. The GOP holds the presidency, the House and the Senate (although the Senate only by a very thin 2-vote margin). So, why isn't there more legislative action? I propose a four-part explanation for why Congress wasn't ramped up and reading to go with a set of reform bills once President Trump was sworn into office:
Why weren't the bills lined up and ready to go? Three reasons: expectations, time, focus and desire. Expectations: because the GOP establishment/insiders/leadership thought Trump would lose and didn't want to waste the time to put together a positive legislative agenda when their strategy was going to be more meaningless repeal votes and jamming legislative action on what they thought would be President HRC's agenda.
Time: it takes months and months to draft a significant piece of legislation, and years to put together a thoughtful sequence of legislative pieces that work together to advance a coherent agenda. Trump's economic agenda, whatever its inadequacies, is coherent: defend American markets from overburdensome taxation, regulation and trade policies. Now, he might be all wrong about how to do that -- he might be completely wrong about the nature of the problems facing the American economy. But his agenda, given its assumptions, is coherent. Legislatively crafting that agenda -- coordinating all the moving parts -- to get it done in the first 100 days or even the first 1000 days would have required the legislative drafting to begin at least a year or two prior to the election. Nobody was thinking that far ahead at that point, not Trump, and certainly not the GOP establishment/insiders/leadership.
Focus: Trump's team has been distracted since he won the election, both by the breadth of what it is working on and by the media assault that it is under 24/7. Reagan understood, when he came into office, that even if he was a 2 term president he would only really get 4 or 5 things done. So, he focused like a laser beam on those 4 or 5 things: tax cuts/reform, regulatory reform, putting the Soviet Union on the read to extinction, SDI (arguably a sub-set of his Soviet policy), and getting better judges appointed to the judiciary. And even Reagan's success on those 4 or 5 things was mixed (cough, Justice O'Conner, cough, Justice Kennedy, cough). When Reagan got distracted, bad things happened (Lebanon, Iran-Contra, the illegal immigrant amnesty). The point being, Reagan wanted to fix 1000 things and had to settle for ... addressing 4 or 5 things. Trump wants to fix 1000 things and is trying to fix 1000 things. He needs to prioritize. When he does (Gorsuch, regulatory reform) he gets results. When he doesn't (everything else), he stalls.
Desire: the GOP establishment very much wants Trump to fail. Mosts of those folks are part of the open borders-free trade globalization elite that very much would like to see the United States become more fully integrated into trans-national trading blocs -- at the cost of the nation's sovereignty and the prosperity of most of our people. Trump's campaign and administration thus far have been a solid repudiation of the globalization ethos. Trump is an American nationalist, as his inaugural address made clear. The GOP congressional leadership and the people who run the party are ... not.