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Will Reince Priebus Undermine Trump’s Revolution As James Baker Did Reagan’s?

James Baker III and Reince Priebus


The selection of establishment Republican Reince Priebus, the current Chairman of the Republican National Committee, as White House Chief of Staff, brings to mind the choice made by President Ronald Reagan when his revolution swept him into the Presidency.

President-elect Reagan chose establishment Republican James Baker III as his White House Chief of Staff, and nearly killed the Reagan Revolution in the process.

Baker was not a fan of many of Reagan’s conservative supporters, and if the final candidates for a key position came down to a committed conservative and one of the names in George HW Bush’s Rolodex chances were the conservative lost out.

Baker, who had been Vice President George HW Bush’s campaign manager during the primaries, was also not a fan of Reaganism, especially the supply side economics and tax cuts that would power Reagan’s economic growth plan.

As my friend Dr. Lee Edwards observed in his book, The Conservative Revolution: The Movement that Remade America, Baker persuaded Reagan to accept the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA), which turned out to be the great tax increase of 1982 - $98 billion over the next three years.

That was too much for eighty-nine House Republicans (including second-term congessman Newt Gingrich of Georgia) or for prominent conservative organizations, such as the Conservative Caucus, headed by my late friend Howard Phillips, the American Conservative Union and even the establishment U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which all opposed the measure.

Despite the conservative opposition Baker assured President Reagan that Congress would approve three dollars in spending cuts for every dollar of tax increase.

Baker and establishment Republican leaders in Congress urged Reagan to make the deal with the Democrats “to support a limited loophole-closing tax increase to raise more than $98.3 billion over three years in return for their agreement to cut spending by $280 billion during the same period.”

Congress later reneged on the deal, and Reagan wrote ruefully in his biography that it was one of the greatest mistakes of his presidency because “we never got those cuts.”

As I observed at the time, regardless of Reagan's successful battles to reduce income tax rates, the average American's total tax payments had actually gone up in Reagan's second year if you included increases in social security withholding.

And the spending "cuts" championed by White House Chief of Staff James Baker III were not absolute reductions in spending, they were merely reductions in the rate of increase.

As another star of the New Right, my late friend Terry Dolan, head of the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC) said of the influence of Baker, Budget Director David Stockman and other moderates President Reagan brought into important policy positions, "We constantly hear nonsense about how conservatives are running everything. If that were true, we wouldn't have the biggest deficits in history."

Personnel is policy, as the misadventures of President Reagan’s moderate advisors, such as White House Chief of Staff James Baker III, clearly demonstrated.

So, this being known to influential members of Donald Trump’s team and family, why would President-elect Trump appoint an establishment Republican like Reince Priebus as his White House Chief of Staff?

Priebus and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker remade the Republican Party of Wisconsin, building it into an effective organization that helped push the state, unexpectedly, into the win column for Donald Trump, but that’s not the reason Priebus was chosen White House Chief of Staff.

One reason and one reason only makes sense: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Speaker Paul Ryan is also from Wisconsin and Priebus and Ryan are known to be close. Ryan has been an outspoken critic of President-elect Trump and from our perspective did almost anything he could to sink Trump’s campaign for President, short of actively campaigning against him as Ohio Governor John Kasich and the Bush family did.

Hiring Reince Priebus to sell Donald Trump’s policies to Speaker Ryan and other reluctant establishment Republicans would make sense to a businessman like Donald Trump, used to hiring expertise – employing people to accomplish a specific narrow task.

The problem is that politics, particularly among Washington’s inside elite, isn’t like business – it’s all about influence, and the flow of influence goes both ways.

The conservative – populists who powered Donald Trump’s victory recognize that the flow of influence will certainly be stronger coming from Speaker Ryan through Priebus to the White House than it will be flowing from the White House through Priebus to Speaker Ryan.

Personnel is policy. Conservatives viewed President Reagan’s White House Chief of Staff, James Baker III, as a Fifth Column inside the White House and as one of the principle obstructions to implementing conservative policy. President-elect Trump would do well to recognize that Reince Priebus may occupy the same role in the Trump White House.

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Einstein's definition of insanity.

I don't like the bastard, I haven't liked him from the get-go. Paul Ryan has kissed Obama' butt from that get-go. And a man is still known by the company he keeps.

Breitbart's Bannon

Breitbart's Bannon as chief strategist to Trump would sniff out such insider mischief before it had a chance to happen...Trump is one smart Guy...

Priebus Chief of Staff

Two ways to handle this...and I suggest both....are to contact Trump to remind him about what happened with Reagan taking this road and the other is to write to Priebus and let him know we are watching closely to make sure he deserves this appointment by having Trump's back and working WITH him and not against him. We put Trump in because we want his policies and we gave them a majority in congress to make sure it happens. We aren't accepting anymore broken promises and back door deals and we plan to do everything possible to make sure "the swamp is drained" and they better get on board or prepare to get out. We want our country back and we want it OUR way.


He would not have been my choice. Looking back during Trump's campaign Priebus was not always Trump supporter and part of the Ryan-Priebus don't dare oppose the democrat programs for fear that they will get blamed by the spin put out by democrats. Maybe Trump has a better understanding of how to get things done but anyone with a name as stupid as Reince may not be the right person for the job?

Oh no, not another rino

It is too bad that Priebus and Rat Ryan are close. I believe this nickname for the Speaker is fitting. He has been a rat and has lived up to the analogy in every way especially during the campaign with his eager attempts to slander Trump at every opportunity. Though, I have to add that the animal named is really better than the speaker. So I feel I am insulting the rat here. To me that should also make Priebus a do not use him persona non grata anywhere in Trump's cabinet since he will lean in heavily on the issues the establishment is for but NOT the issues the people who voted strongly for Trump are in favor of.

Keeping a balance is what is going to be hard for President Elect Trump. I just love that his presidency is now a real fact. I am sure the political establishment is lofting all sorts of arguments for their continuing NWO agendas, and there are multiple agendas. I have wondered since Trump asked for the vote and the job why he would want to step into the muck. I believe it is because he feels strongly, patriotically about this country and the working class legal citizens. Good luck President Elect Trump. You are smart but you are also going to need a lot of luck and all the help the voters can bring to bear on this really lousy congress we have these days..

On one other note, I read an article by a reporter today and he was saying that millions of illegal aliens were here legally. That is untrue. The illegal edicts and actions of this horrible administration do not constitute lawful entry into this country. NOT enforcing our laws and allowing them to enter this country does not make the egress lawful either. So I would hope the USA Today Alan Gomez gets corrected. I found the article and his bias mostly lacking in truths and a blatant attempt to twist the facts about removing unlawful illegal alien as in deportation. It would be much easier and cheaper to shut down the welfare spigot and mandate e-verify nationally. Guess Alan Gomez will not like those ideas either. But I have to remind him that we cannot enter the countries these illegal aliens are from either to live without first applying for permission to immigrate there. Those countries do enforce their laws and guard their sovereignty and borders with force. And we should do less than they do? I think not!