The negotiations over the latest National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – the annual spending package that finances the military – weren’t exactly easy. House Democrats approved a version of the bill that included a series of progressive priorities, including an end to Donald Trump’s ban on transgender troops and safeguards to regulate toxic chemicals used in water on military bases.
In the end, the parties struck a deal: the White House would get funding for the president’s “Space Force,” which will be part of the Air Force, and in exchange, Democrats were able to secure funding for a 12-week family-leave benefit for federal employees. With the compromise in place, the $738 billion defense package had the support needed to pass.
In a curious political move, however, Trump wants people to believe the Democratic provisions were actually his idea. The conservative Washington Times reported yesterday:
President Trump spotlighted a “historic” deal Thursday that offers paid family leave to federal workers, seizing credit for another item that was on Democrats’ wish list for years.
The government “will now give 12 weeks of paid family leave to all federal employees – something that nobody expected,” Mr. Trump said at a White House summit on child care.
A day earlier, on Twitter, the president identified the “paid parental leave” provisions in the NDAA as one of “our priorities.”
At a certain level, I understand the rationale behind the deception. Pro-family policies tend to be quite popular, so it stands to reason Trump would want to be associated with the Democratic goal that Democrats successfully fought for.
But that doesn’t turn fiction into fact.
Nevertheless, pointing to the Dems’ family-leave policy, Ivanka Trump claimed at a White House event yesterday, “In every action he takes, the president is putting American families first.”
This prompted the Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell to explain that pretending Trump’s agenda is “pro-family” is quite ridiculous: more families are losing their health insurance, more people are losing access to safety-net programs they’re legally entitled to, and more Americans are losing access to food stamps and nutrition assistance. Rampell’s column added:
There’s a long list of other Trump actions egregiously unfriendly to families – including, of course, the family separation policy that ripped some 5,400 children away from their parents, many of them for months. Today, we’re merely sending asylum-seeking families to tent cities in Mexico, where children and their parents can remain together as long as they’re willing to tolerate epidemics, frostbite, kidnapping and sexual assault.
Given this record, how can this administration claim with a straight face that it’s pro-family?
Perhaps by claiming credit for the other party’s ideas?