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Trump Just Accidentally Revealed His Total Ignorance of Congress

Does the president really not know what's standing in the way of his own party's priorities?

by Harry Cheadle
May 30 2017, 4:24pm

Left photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images; right photo by Flickr user ttarasiuk

Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported that the White House was thinking about having a bunch of lawyers vet Donald Trump's tweets before they escape his phone into the wider world. It's unclear if that will actually happen, but it sure seems like someone should be looking over his shoulder, if not for legal reasons than simply to prevent the president of the United States from looking like he's not even paying attention to what's going on.

Yeah sorry, this is one of those articles that's about a tweet. Here's the tweet, which is notable not because Trump is wrong about something, but because it shows how disconnected he is from the year's most important domestic policy fights:

Trump is obviously frustrated with the slow pace of a Republican-dominated Congress as it works to pass the American Health Care Act and then move on to tax reform. He's complained on Twitter before about the rules that require a supermajority of 60 votes to pass anything in the Senate—in response to which Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell publicly declared he wouldn't change those rules.

But this isn't a disagreement between Trump and McConnell—it's much, much dumber than that.

Thanks to the magic of a process called "reconciliation," the healthcare bill only needs 50 Senate votes. The thing Trump wants has already happened! (Mr. President, congrats.) The obstacle isn't Democratic obstruction but Senate Republicans wanting to write their own version of the thing—probably because it is deeply, even historically unpopular, and has made town-hall meetings a living hell for some House Republicans.

Similarly, tax reform has stalled because Republicans haven't agreed on what it would look like—mainly, they're arguing about how they'll raise revenue in order to make up for reductions in the overall tax rate they want. And the tax reform Republican legislators are talking about isn't the same thing as the "TAX CUTS" Trump refers to in his tweet.

This isn't a "fact-check" of Trump's statement, because honestly at this point who cares? Trump is famous for saying things that aren't true, and one more log on the bonfire doesn't make a whit of difference. But when he complains about the Senate in a way that indicates he doesn't know what stands in the way of his own party's top two legislative priorities, that's a slip-up of a different sort. Trump accidentally told the truth, which is that he doesn't know what's going on in Congress, and doesn't care to find out before whining about it.

In unrelated news, the White House director of communications quit on Tuesday.

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