News Analysis: Will GOP divisions thwart Trump's agenda?

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-28 14:38:45|Editor: Liu
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by Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Several months ago, U.S. Republicans thought they made it. They not only clinched the White House in a victory that shocked the world, but also took control of both houses of Congress.

Most thought they would be on easy street, and could pass a slew of legislations, but the last few months have proved them wrong.

Deep divisions with his own party have prevented President Donald Trump from passing any major bills, even after eight months on the job. While Democrats are united in their opposition to Trump, Republicans are split among several factions.

While analysts say the animosity is likely to continue, the question is whether those divisions will stunt Trump's presidency for the next four years.

Trump's split with his own party picked up steam this week, fueled by a spat between the president and a leading GOP senator. Tensions began to simmer when Senator John McCain, who was the Republican nominee for the 2008 U.S. presidential election, refused to back Trump's healthcare legislation, which would have repealed and replaced the previous administration's healthcare overhaul known as Obamacare.

That caused the legislation to derail, and sent the president into a flurry of angry tweets aimed at McCain. Trump also said in a radio interview that McCain's actions were a "slap in the face" to the GOP.

Trump in recent weeks has become so frustrated with his own party that he extended an olive branch to Democrats, reaching a deal that extended emergency relief to flood-ravaged Texas, after Hurricane Harvey took a major toll. Ninety Republicans objected the deal.

The president was elected in November by supporters who are fed up with the status quo. Millions of Americans, especially those in rural areas, remain unemployed or underemployed. Supporters elected the president to pass legislations that would boost the economy and put Americans back to work after a recession that is ongoing in many rural areas.

Some analysts warn that supporters will start to lose hope in Trump's ability to boost the economy and put the nation back on track which they elected him to do. The ongoing failure to pass legislations could put Trump's presidency in the slow lane.

Analysts say that could impact the 2018 congressional elections, and even result in the GOP losing control of Congress. If that happens, Trump would have a hard time passing anything at all after 2018.

Trump's hope is in passing tax reform legislation, as that is something on which both parties can agree. Much of the middle class says it is getting killed by unfair taxes. Passing tax reform would keep Trump in his supporters' good graces. But if he fails, it will spell trouble for the party, and ultimately the White House.

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua that the spats between Trump and the GOP "could very well continue, but it's easier for Trump to get tax reform through than it is with Obamacare."

Indeed, tax reform is an issue that both parties want to pass, albeit in varied forms.

"Trump is unpredictable. He may start cutting deals with Democrats to fire up the folks in Washington, but he knows he needs to get some sort of tax reform through before the Midterms," O'Connell said, referring to the 2018 congressional elections.