Trump says he's 'open to a deal' as a budget showdown looms — but here's who's really in charge

Trump says he's 'open to a deal' as a budget showdown looms — but here's who's really in charge
Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour

Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell met Tuesday to talk budget caps, and they supposedly emerged from the meeting with Trump's go-ahead for McConnell to negotiate a deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. At issue is looming automatic cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

Unless Congress and Trump can come up with a budget all agree to, the mandated cuts under that old law kick in, with about $71 billion coming from defense and $55 billion from domestic spending. McConnell, possibly in hopes of avoiding another politically disastrous government shutdown, has been anxious to strike a deal and has reportedly had pushback from Trump on that. As of this week, though, Trump seems to be okay with the effort. That's, as with everything else with Trump, subject to change.

It's also subject to the pushback from the real deciders; Mick Mulvaney and his handpicked successor at the Office of Managment and Budget, Russ Vought. They've reportedly been pushing Trump to insist on the domestic spending cuts, figuring that somehow, some way, they'll be able to boost defense spending anyway—maybe with a war in Iran? Anything's possible with this crew.

But as one of Politico's sources for this story said, Trump's "open to a deal. Sure." But that doesn't mean anything. "The people he deputizes to negotiate for him will determine the outcome." The main person he's going to deputize will be Mulvaney, the Freedom Caucus nihilist who doesn't care what ends up getting blown to pieces.

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