No Honeymoons in Washington This Year: McConnell Warns House Dems to Play Ball
Mitch McConnell — can I really call him Mitch? — wrote an op-ed for Fox News this week in which he said that reports of the death of bipartisanship in Washington have been wildly exaggerated.
Liars Gotta Lie
That’s a blatant lie. There has been very little bipartisanship in Washington for the past six years, and there is likely to be even less bipartisanship over the next two years, courtesy of the Democratic victory in the House of Representatives.
The Washington Post just published an article by Antonia Noori Farzen in which she claims that that Mitch’s infamous 2010 interview in the right leaning National Journal, where he said that “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” was “greatly misunderstood.”
Farzan then goes on to quote Washington post “fact checker” Glenn Kessler’s 2017 article calling New Jersey Democratic senator Corey Booker to task for claiming that Mitch made this comment in 2008 in the following quote from Booker:
“What Mitch McConnell has done and what I have watched, even some time when I was mayor of my city, when he came into a position when America was in a financial free-fall, there was crisis all over this country, he announced to America that the number one priority he had was keeping President Obama from getting a second term.”
Kessler then contends that Booker was fibbing because McConnell actually made that statement in 2010, not in 2008, but Booker never said that McConnell made the statement in 2008. Kessler merely infers it, as this quote from Kessler’s article proves:
“If Booker is following past practice, he is suggesting McConnell made this statement near the start of Obama’s term. He (Booker) notes that he was mayor of Newark (2006–2013) and that ‘America was in a financial free-fall, there was crisis all over this country.’ That certainly sounds like the start of Obama’s presidency.”
Double Talk is Always Double Talk
This piece of double-talk is thoroughly disingenuous. First of all, the financial crisis did not end in 2008. It began in 2008. The repercussions from that financial crisis continued throughout Barack Obama’s first term and into the second, and the effects of the crisis were more long lasting in some places than they were in others. Newark was one of those places that were hardest hit (everything is always worse in Newark) and came back slowly after the near collapse of the banking and real estate industries, among others.
Booker never said when McConnell gave the speech in question, but he did suggest that he saw how the Republicans tried everything they could to prevent President Obama from achieving any of his legislative goals and, in fact, that’s exactly what the Republicans were doing from 2008 on, under McConnell’s leadership.
McConnell’s 2010 remarks were made shortly before the midterm election that gave Republicans control over the Senate….it was a campaign pitch, and it was a statement of what had been the Republican party’s policy from the first day of the Obama administration.
In point of fact, the travesty that became the Affordable Care Act resulted from President Obama’s attempts to forge a compromise plan that would get Republican support, which he didn’t need (since he had enough votes to pass the bill in both houses of Congress) but wanted to use as a peace offering to the Republicans. In the end, when Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, it passed without a single Republican vote and, in the end, the compromises that were made in the structure of the bill were made to appease conservative Democrats because the Republican party presented a united front against the bill. The Republicans then turned around and used their negative representations about the Affordable Care Act to gain control of Congress in the 2010 midterm, and spent the next six years blocking everything else that Obama tried to do.
Obstructionism is a Long-Standing Republican Strategy
That sounds exactly like the kind of obstructionism that McConnell was espousing in his October 2010 speech.
The gist of Farzan’s article, however, was McConnell’s belief that the two parties could find common ground, citing legislation passed with bipartisan support targeting the opiod epidemic, increasing defense funding, reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs, and funding infrastructure improvements, as evidence that the two parties could work together.
Some Democrats may have mistakenly signed onto these Republican initiatives, but these aren’t exactly the changes that Democrats are pining for, raising questions about which Democratic party McConnell is doing business with, because none of those legislative initiatives were on the Democratic party’s shopping list. They were Republican initiatives that the Democratic party acquiesced to because that was the best deal they could get.
This, however, was during the same time frame that the Republicans also “managed” to enact a massive tax cut for corporations and high income earners, confirming two unimpressive conservative Supreme Court Justices who might well be described as damaged good, one of whom is occupying a seat that should have had Merrick Garland’s name on it, passing a massive increase in funding for the Defense Department, and rolling back numerous federal health and safety regulations, none of which were on the Democratic agenda. (To be fair, the Defense Department budget increases was initiated during the Obama presidency.)
The Power of NO
With the Democrats now in the control of the House, but not the Senate, the Democratic party is only in a position to say NO to Republican initiatives. The Democrats are not in a position to implement any legislation of their own, not even to repeal any of the budget busting laws the Republicans have passed during the first two years of Trump.
With former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi campaigning among her peers in the Democratic party to get her old job back and claiming that the modest gains achieved in the House was a great victory, we are now facing a situation in which the leadership of the Democratic party is again out of step with the rank and file. Pelosi has already angered progressives in the Democratic ranks by pledging that the Democrats would strive for bipartisanship, according to Farzan’s article.
Unmixing Mixed Messages
In McConnell’s mind, the midterm election “made it abundantly clear” that the American people prefer “that Congress focus on making a difference,” arguing that the Democratic controlled House of Representatives should refrain from conducting investigations rather than seeking “policy results.”
We must have been watching two different elections. The way I read last week’s votes, the American people clearly voted against a unified Republican government, because they didn’t like what the Republicans were doing and really don’t like what the Republicans are planning to do.
The American Congress was set up the way it was set up to give “the people” (that’s us, in case you’ve lost track of that fact) the ability to check the excesses of the patricians who occupied the Senate, which was specifically set up to favor moneyed interests. That’s why budget bills must originate in the House of the People (which, in England, is referred to as the House of Commons) rather than the Senate (which, in England, is referred to as the House of Lords.)
Repeated Republican mutterings about “changing” Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other assistance programs did not fall upon deaf ears. The American people heard them loud and clear and took steps to prevent the Republicans from doing what they really want to do.
Pelosi is Dead Wrong
Pelosi is dead wrong. The voters don’t want bipartisanship. They want the Democrats to put the brakes on Republican efforts to make America great…for Republicans…again.
Ms. Farzan is also dead wrong. The American people did not “greatly misunderstand” what Mitch McConnell was saying. They understood exactly what he was saying…but they didn’t agree with him or his agenda.
And, finally, The Washington Post is dead wrong. This is just the latest in a series of WP articles that are causing me to question whose side they are on, the people’s side or the Republicans?
The honeymoon was over before it began.