Another Friday in the Trump administration, another firing. This time it was Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services. Who will it be next Friday? Every Trump administration official cringes when Fridays come around and they hear themselves being referred to by the president as a “good man,” which always seems to foreshadow their demise.
It did for Michael Flynn, Sean Spicer and Steve Bannon among others. We don’t have to worry about him saying “good woman” because there are so few women in high positions in this administration. It would be fun to hear him say it about Kellyanne Conway on her way out the door.
The real problem with the Trump administration is the president apparently doesn’t understand what the people he is hiring are either supposed to do or can do. Neither the president nor his minions have been able to put together what my good friend former Congressman Phil Sharp (D-Ind.) refers to as the formula for getting something done in government. According to Sharp that formula is a combination of the three P’s; policy, process and politics. Only by understanding and working through all three can the administration actually get something done.
Trump and his co-conspirators apparently have yet to learn that. I guess decent people should be thankful for that. They are usually prepared to deal with only one of the three having never thought through all of them on any issue. Tom Price was most likely fired more for his failure to accomplish ‘repeal and replace’ of the Affordable Care Act than for his ripping off the American public by taking a $12,500 charter jet from Washington to Philadelphia. That was a great excuse to dump him. Trump hired Price because he told him he had a ‘repeal and replace’ bill ready to go that he could get through Congress. Because Trump doesn’t understand healthcare as he admitted early in his presidency — when he said “Nobody knew health care could be some complicated” — he believed him.
Trump didn’t understand the policy implications of the bill nor the process Congress would need to follow if changes to the ACA would be done. Price clearly misread the politics or the mood of the country when it came to really changing the healthcare they were now getting used to having. The same could be said of Trump’s effort to put forth his various travel bans. We are now seeing the same lack of planning from the administration on the proposed overhaul of the tax code. Trump is speaking about it one way, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is saying something different and his chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, is showing a total disregard for the politics of the situation, first saying he can’t guarantee every middle-class person will get a tax break under the plan and then suggesting a $1,000 tax cut for a family would be great because then they could buy a new car or have their kitchen remodeled. This is the result when all of your economic advisers come from Wall Street and are multi-millionaires with no concept of most people’s reality.
Then there is Trump’s infrastructure plan. That is now bogged down waiting for a tax plan to be passed. But it seems it is also hung up because Trump doesn’t understand the process of public/private partnerships nor the politics of getting a member of Congress, even a Republican one representing a rural district, to vote for a bill based on counting on a private builder to invest in a road in rural Oklahoma or Wyoming that isn’t traveled enough to get a return on their money.
It is now rumored that Trump feels Jared and Ivanka being in the administration may not be so great as it makes them targets. Well what makes them targets are things like using private email accounts while there. Once the hysterical laughter over that dies down you have to think maybe they aren’t as smart as people made them out to be. Perhaps neighbors on Tracy Place in Kalorama will wake up one Friday in the not-too-distant future to find a moving truck parked on their street and Trump holding a press conference saying Jared is a ‘good man’ and for the first time using the term ‘good woman’ as his tribute to Ivanka on their way out the door and back to New York.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.