Chuck and Nancy’s art of the deal

September 20, 2017

Danny Katch, author of Why Bad Governments Happen to Good People, uncovers the secret of the shell game that Democrats have played in the name of defending DACA.

CHUCK SCHUMER and Nancy Pelosi are the Democratic Party's leaders in Congress. They are also world's best negotiators, absolutely, so much better than those losers Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.

Last week, Chuck and Nancy announced a deal they made with Donald Trump that would stop young immigrants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program from being deported--in exchange for more weapons to use against their parents and communities.

Actually, it's unclear what Chuck and Nancy really got in the deal, and many of the young immigrants that they supposedly protected are very unhappy about even what Chuck and Nancy say they got.

But none of that matters because these two Democrats are winners who make deals. Plus, Donald Trump "likes us," as Chuck was overheard bragging to a Senate colleague.

THIS STORY of epic winning starts last Wednesday, when Chuck and Nancy went to the White House to have dinner with Donald and talk about lots of things, not just immigrants, but tax reform and infrastructure.

Democratic congressional leaders Chuck Schumer (left) and Nancy Pelosi speak to reporters
Democratic congressional leaders Chuck Schumer (left) and Nancy Pelosi speak to reporters

Oh, and China, lots of talk about China. Many Democrats criticized Donald during the campaign for bashing China every chance he could get, so you might be surprised to learn that China, according to the New York Times, is the area "on which Mr. Trump and Mr. Schumer hold their closest views."

Nancy, Donald and Chuck talked about China so much that Donald had his White House chef prepare them Chinese food for dinner, to make sure everybody stayed focused on China. Maybe during the next round of DACA negotiations they'll eat Trump Tower taco bowls to show how much they "love Hispanics!"

Right after dinner, Chuck and Nancy shocked the capital by releasing a statement that they and Donald had "agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that's acceptable to both sides."

The next day, Chuck told the New York Times that "the next step" would be to "sit down and figure out a border security package that we can all agree on" that would be paired in Congress with the DREAM Act.

The DREAM Act is long-standing legislation that would offer similar protections as DACA, but also create the possibility for young immigrants who meet its requirements to become citizens--after an incredibly long 13 years.

Don't worry about the DREAM Act's details just yet, though, because it's not clear if that's actually if that's what the tremendous negotiators Nancy and Chuck actually got from Donald--who told reporters the day after the dinner, "We're not looking at citizenship. We're not looking at amnesty. We're looking at allowing people to stay here."

BIG-TIME dealmakers like Chuck and Nancy know that the content of the deal matters less than making it happen.

That's why they outflanked congressional Republicans and went directly to Donald, only to give Donald and the Republicans a huge gift by bargaining about DACA's future, rather than making an unconditional fight to keep the highly popular program.

Chuck and Nancy, in other words, did exactly what many DACA recipients had been urging Democrats not to do: Use them as a bargaining chip in exchange for more repression of other immigrants.

The abstract categories of "good" and "bad" immigrants created by politicians to determine who faces deportation make little sense to most DACA recipients--who aren't necessarily comforted by the fact that armed federal agents storming their home in the middle of the night are there to seize their parents, not them.

Even more meaningless is the distinction between Trump's "wall" and Nancy and Chuck's "border security"--the components of which include a federal agency of slave catchers stalking immigrant communities, a prison system stuffed with tens of thousands of people for months and years without trial, and, yes, a "fence" that already runs across a third of the U.S. border with Mexico.

Maybe that's why over 60 young immigrants stormed Nancy's press conference on Monday, chanting, "Democrats deport! We are not a bargaining chip!" and "All of us or none of us!"

But don't let the fact that immigrants aren't happy about Chuck and Nancy's deal for immigrants fool you into thinking that Chuck and Nancy aren't the world's greatest deal-makers for immigrants.

You just have to understand that they and other Democrats aren't negotiating for immigrants, and they never were. Chuck and Nancy are making deals for American capitalism, and they're playing the long game.

FOR IMMIGRANTS on one side and anti-immigrants on the other, the opposing solutions to a broken system in which 11 million people are deemed "illegal" are simple: citizenship versus deportation. By contrast, corporations have spent several decades pushing various convoluted versions of "comprehensive immigration reform" (CIR) that would legalize many immigrants, but keep them all in a state of limbo that makes them easier to exploit.

Nancy, Chuck and others have sold the worst aspects of CIR to their supporters as necessary concessions to get Republicans on board with DACA. But as wrote earlier this year:

[M]any of the measures put forward by supposed allies of immigrants in the Democratic Party--such as guest-worker programs, deporting immigrants for criminal offenses after they've already been through the justice system, putting other immigrants on a long (perhaps endless) "path to citizenship" and shutting the door on people who haven't yet arrived--aren't compromises on the road to justice, but more tidy ways to regulate permanent inequality and provide employers with precarious workers.

The problem for Corporate America is that while Chuck and Nancy have been reliable allies, leaders of the Republican Party are running scared because of the rabid xenophobia of their middle-class voting base, as Politico noted earlier this month:

John Boehner and Eric Cantor were thrown to the wolves a few years ago for even toying with some sort of immigration reform package...Paul Ryan is always under the threat of an immediate referendum vote of his speakership. Immigration isn't like touching the third rail. It's like hugging an electrified pole while wearing soaking wet clothing.

Now, Chuck and Nancy think that Donald, the world's most famous anti-immigrant, might be their immigration solution, because he is uniquely qualified to provide cover for many Republicans to return to their rightful corporate masters and pass CIR. And they aren't the only ones.

"President Trump has a chance to be on immigration what President Nixon was on China; he has a lot of credibility on the issue," said Lamar Alexander, one of the Senate's "moderate" Republicans. "I think if the president recommended a solution to Congress and the American people, they might very well accept it."

It's too early to tell whether Chuck and Nancy will even get a limited deal from Trump on DACA, much less any larger immigration reform framework. But pay attention to how quickly they showed their hand on their willingness, in the name of saving DREAMers, to literally sell out DREAMers' mothers.

That's not incompetence, even though Chuck and Nancy sure are good at making it look that way. They're working for immigration reform that's designed not for immigrants, but for those who want to exploit them.

So they need to work the same poor liberal sap con that Democrats have been running for generations--the one that brought us such disasters as Bill Clinton's welfare reform and Barack Obama's increased deportations.

Be careful around Chuck and Nancy. It may look like they're the ones getting played by Republicans. But check for your back to make sure you're not the one getting taken for a ride.

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