The lead editorial in Thursday’s edition of The New York Times hit upon a brilliant concept: Congress should pass legislation prohibiting the President from preemptively launching a nuclear strike without first receiving a declaration of war from Congress. The President could still respond to a nuclear attack without congressional approval, but he could not preemptively launch a nuclear strike without Congress’ consent. The benefits are obvious:
- It would dramatically reduce the odds of a nuclear war;
- It would reduce tensions with Kim Jong Un, who would be less worried that the U.S. would strike preemptively;
- It would signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. is not as out of control as it seems;
However, even though most congressional Republicans privately agree that Donald Trump can’t be trusted with the nuclear codes, they won’t vote to unilaterally limit his power—especially considering the threat of Bannon-backed primaries in jurisdictions nationwide.
However, the one thing that all congressional Republicans need is tax reform. If a Republican House, Senate and White House can’t pass a basic tax cut, voters won’t keep them in power.
If the Times’ proposal were tied to tax reform, it would give House and Senate Republicans more than enough cover to vote for it. Even though Congress couldn’t put both provisions in the same bill, Congress could agree to run the two bills simultaneously. Doing so would increase the likelihood that the GOP’s tax reform plan would pass by appealing to GOP senators alienated by Trump like Sens. John McCain, Bob Corker and Susan Collins. And for congressional Democrats who want to vote for tax reform—especially those who face re-election next year in red states—being able to say, “I voted to save the world” is a great way to push back on forces on the left who want every Democrat to oppose tax reform no matter what.
All other issues—health care, trade, immigration, infrastructure and climate change—matter tremendously but aren’t immediate threats to the human race. The same can’t be said for nuclear war.
Congressional Republicans simply have to have tax reform, and they would also probably like to reduce their odds of dying for no good reason, but not necessarily at the risk of enticing Trump and Bannon’s antipathy—even though a clear path in the primary doesn’t do much good if all your constituents are dead. Some Democrats would also like to vote for lower taxes. And presumably all Democrats—along with the rest of us—would prefer not to perish because we elected a mentally unstable leader. This plan is good old fashioned compromise and democracy with a side of survival of the human race. Seems like a pretty good trade to me.
Bradley Tusk is the founder and CEO of Tusk Holdings, the parent company of Tusk Strategies, Tusk Ventures, Kronos Archives, the Ivory Gaming Group and Tusk Montgomery Philanthropies. In 2009, he served as Mike Bloomberg’s campaign manager, guiding Mayor Bloomberg to a third term.
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