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Friday, October 28, 2016

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has a major dilemma on his hands.

Throughout the past week, members of the Senate’s right wing — led by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Rand Paul (R-KY) — have been publicly lobbying their Republican colleagues to block the passage of any continuing resolution funding the federal government, unless it defunds the Affordable Care Act. The plan is functionally dead in the water — several reliable Obamacare opponents in the Senate have already derided the plan’s obvious flaws (first and foremost among them, that shutting down the government wouldn’t actually halt the Affordable Care Act’s implementation) — but it remains a politically potent symbol in Republican politics.

“There is a powerful, defeatist approach among Republicans in Washington,” Senator Cruz pointedly said on Tuesday. “I think they’re beaten down and they’re convinced that we can’t give a fight, and they’re terrified.”

The remarks were a thinly veiled shot at McConnell, who has thus far refused to take a position on the government shutdown plan.

“We’ve had a lot of internal discussions about the way forward this fall in both the continuing resolution and, ultimately, the debt ceiling, and those discussions continue,” McConnell said on Tuesday. “There’s no particular announcement at this point.”

McConnell may have to make a decision sooner rather than later, however. Matt Bevin, the Tea Party-backed businessman who is challenging McConnell for the Republican nomination in Kentucky’s 2014 Senate election, is seizing on McConnell’s reticence in an effort to outflank the four-term incumbent from the right.

“Mitch McConnell’s rhetoric on defeating Obamacare is nothing but empty promises,” Bevin said in a statement released Wednesday. “Obamacare is a disaster and if we can’t repeal it, we have a responsibility to the American people to defund it.”

“I challenge Mitch McConnell to join me in signing the pledge to defund Obamacare,” he continued. “Instead of playing political games, it’s time to stand up for the people of Kentucky.”

McConnell currently holds a massive lead over the largely-undefined Bevin, but if Bevin continues to attract right-wing support, the race could tighten significantly. If McConnell decides that the risk of shutting down the government for no tangible gain outweighs the risk of prolonged public attack from Tea Party favorites such as Cruz and Lee, then he could find himself very vulnerable in a Republican primary. Although Bevin remains an extreme long shot to steal the nomination from McConnell, a closely-contested primary could do serious damage to McConnell’s chances in the general election.

If McConnell does sign on to the Lee plan, however, it could cause him an even bigger headache. His likely Democratic opponent in 2014 — Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes — is already tailoring her campaign to paint McConnell as a “guardian of gridlock” who exemplifies the dysfunction in Washington, D.C. If McConnell agrees to attempt to shut down the government in a futile effort to repeal Obamacare, that image will be magnified — giving Grimes, who currently polls within striking distance of McConnell — a great political opportunity. Furthermore, due to McConnell’s status as the leader of the Senate Republicans, taking the extremist position could impact all the Republican senators on the ballot in 2014.

Whatever McConnell decides, it will not have a serious impact on the future of the Affordable Care Act. But it will have major ramifications in McConnell’s re-election battle — and could even decide which party ends up in control of the Senate.

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • Lynda Groom

    McConnell just might be pondering the view from the corner he finds himself. When you paint the floor you’ve got to remember to leave yourself an avenue of escape. Ooops!

  • Dominick Vila

    McConnell has two choices: move to the right of his Tea Party opponent, or move to the center-right. Since the latter means funding ACA and abandoning obstructionism, at least for a while, my guess is that he has no choice but to become President Obama’s worst nightmare. If he moves just a tiny bit to the center he will not be re-elected. Kentucky is not the East or West Coast, what resonates in most red states is constant attacks against a man most ultra-conservatives consider an usurper and an aberration.

    • edwardw69

      What resonates in most red states is continuing–both on a state and individual level–to keep collecting federal largess, while condemning the distribution of federal largess.

      • irishtap

        Perfect, edwardw69.

      • Dominick Vila

        I agree. I have several Republican-Tea Party neighbors who blame social programs for all our problems, and who believe government spending is the reason for all our problems. Several of them collect SSI for illnesses that evaporate the moment it is time to party, they collect food stamps, and at least one is on welfare even though that person is only 32 years old, physically fit, and has no problem enjoying herself.
        BTW, I am sure there are plenty of Democrats who do the same thing.
        My experience is due to the fact that I live in a heavily Republican district where empty chairs and Romney signs grew faster than weeds last Fall.

        • RobertCHastings

          I have a relative who works at the local YMCA, as a volunteer in aquatics, helping teach classes in physical rehab and arthritis rehab. One of his students is morbidly obese and is on disability and Medicaid. He is also an vocal Republican objecting to ALL government programs that help people like him stay the way they are. When he finally wakes up and realizes “We have seen the enemy and they are us”, will it be too late?

          • Dominick Vila

            A young woman that lives close to my house has been collecting welfare and getting food stamps for years because she is bipolar. She has no problem partying several times a week, jogging, and occasionally gets little jobs that pay under the table.
            A guy in his mid 40s has been collecting disability since I moved to the place where I live 11 years ago. He has no problem riding his Harley, boating, and doing things I wish I could do.
            I have no problem helping people who for a variety of reasons cannot work or cannot find work, but I can’t stand those who are healthy and find ways to beat the system.

          • RobertCHastings

            They are the source for the right’s favorite stereotype – the welfare millionaire. EVERY government program whose general design is to help those in need is liable to abuse, and clever folks can find a way around regulations. Those who abuse and milk the system while others who actually need the benefits go wanting should be, as John Malkovic says in RED2 “have honey poured on their balls and staked out over an ant hill”.

  • Pamby50

    Couldn’t happen to a better person. He brought this on all by himself.

  • michaelross

    He’ll swing to the right. McConnell has proven time and time again that he doesn’t give a flying crap about the country or Kentucky. The only things that matter to him are the Republican party and his own position within it.

    Remember, this is the same idiot who was running negative campaign ads as early as January of this year. He’ll swing further to the right of his primary opponent and run a massive smear campaign against Grimes to compensate for it.

    • jointerjohn

      I’ll agree with you on the lack of concern these republicans have for their constituents and the country, but I find they care very little for their party either. The republican party used to be the party with very few primary battles, the expectation was you don’t fight amongst yourselves, that is what the democrats do. Then that party sold it’s soul to the evangelicals and the Tea Party. Both are rigid, inflexible ideologues in a realm, (American politics), that only functions off of compromise and consensus. Remember what they did to Senator Richard Lugar? Probably the most respected and esteemed republican in the entire U.S. Senate? Gutted him out with a primary opponent so completely looney the red state elected a democrat instead. Now, did they learn from that? Clearly not. Here they are getting ready to do it all over again. The Grand Old Party has given itself over to political vandals.

  • irishtap

    Oh the irony. We’re seeing senate members of his party back away from pulling the plug on ACA, it’s going to be enjoyable watching this worm squirm. We’ll be seeing excrement exit both sides of his mouth before too long. Lying – scheming insect…

    • stcroixcarp

      The GOP senators and congressmen are such hypocrites. They would have some credibility on repealing Obamacare if they would all give up their socialized, government funded health care plans. I want what they have and for the same price they pay. (p.s. Don’t you go around giving insects a bad name!)

      • irishtap

        I stand corrected – insects were put on this earth for a reason…

        • Jim Myers

          And they have been here a lot longer than humans.

  • old crow

    Better look over your right shoulder Mitch some one gaining on you and it ain’t John Corn- in

  • DAK27

    Defeat of this asshole would be great with a capitol G! I don’t care who wins his seat just as long as he is out of the Senate. McConnel isn’t a leader, he’s a parasite and has no balls, no brains and certainly no guts.

    • RobertCHastings

      Be careful what you wish for. He has already driven one likely candidate (Ashley Judd) out of the race and, with enough campaign money in his war chest he will undoubtedly conduct one of the dirtiest campaigns imaginable.

  • docb

    The turtle has many problems at home & in DC…this is just one!

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    There’s a more dangerous problem brewing with Ted Cruz. No amount of Texifying him will EVER turn him against his birth country. He’s leading the charge to shut down the US government..How dare he? Of course, in the deepest darkest part of his Canadian soul, he’d love nothing more than to see the US go down in major disaster. It’s the nature of certain Canadians who have an underlying resentment of the United States because Canada can’t extricate itself from the French in Quebec and the Brits everywhere else. This is THE most dangerous situation Americans face today. To allow this Canadian pushy boi to threaten to shut down the government and force the delay of US bills being paid…Wake up people…This guy is more dangerous than McConnell could ever be. And this is who Texas is shoving onto the front line for the presidency? And what? Have this Canadian lunatic annex the US to Canada?

    • RobertCHastings

      Are you trying to revive “Canadian Bacon”?

      • dtgraham

        How do you like that. Just as Admiral Tojo Cruz was about (aboot?) to put the finishing touches on America for the Fuhrer Harper’s Imperial Fatherland Canada, Eleanore figured it out. Damn! Damn that Wikileaks.

        • Eleanore Whitaker

          Cruz is the connection between the Keystone Pipeline. Go back and read the Calgary Sun’s report of Bush ’43’s visit to then Premier Ralph Klein in Calgary back in 2006. They were setting up a done deal for Keystone. When you are done with that…read the National Post’s account in 2007 of the meeting in DC between Klein and Bush. Don’t tell me this wasn’t another sneaky underhanded Texas hogtie to get Keystone rammed through one way or the other. The only state that stands to gain from Keystone is Texas. And the only province that is having huge overdevelopment problems thanks to a glut of building is Alberta. Alberta needs their dirty Tar Sand oil production tripled to deal with their own stupidity in allowing so much construction in this ultra conservative province. Like all ultra conservatives, they never think of consequences. Now their natural resources are stretched and in their Canadian minds only the Keystone Pipeline will shore up Alberta’s insecure economy. Tells you how much profit AB will make and the US won’t.

          • dtgraham

            I’m sure they did feel in 2006 that Keystone going south was a done deal. They somehow didn’t factor in an Obama Presidency in two years. I hope he rejects it but, despite his rhetoric of late, I’m not overly optimistic at all.

            The Keystone is pretty much dead going West and TransCanada is now trying to negotiate a way forward for an Eastern pipeline through to New Brunswick, but it’s nowhere close to being agreed upon yet, with the Province of Quebec being the most sceptical. First Nations groups don’t want it and it needs the approval of every Province going East plus a safety review by the National Energy Board. My hope is that, if it comes down to it, the Federal Conservatives won’t just reject a bad review by the NEB with their party struggling so badly in the polls and an election in less than two years.

            This has nothing whatsoever to do with any kind of secret Canadian subterfuge in Cruz’s self conscience. His parents were from abroad and only came up to work in the oil industry for a time. The baby Cruz left Canada at age 4 and has never returned, except possibly on a holiday. How much national allegiance could you possibly acquire as a toddler, not to mention absorption of the culture, when you’ve lived all of your life elsewhere and your parents aren’t even Canadian? C’mon now.

            Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s Progressive Conservatives are nowhere remotely close to Ted Cruz’s version of conservatism. It’s entirely different although Ralph Klein might have been at least somewhere in the ball park. Most Americans don’t share Cruz’s beliefs either for that matter.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            That’s going to be a tough call for Quebec. Canada is a lovely country. Perhaps, one of the last and most pristine left on the planet. To trash Alberta as is being done near the Hardisty Tar Sand Oil production site is a national disgrace.

            I work with someone who was born in Poland and lived long enough in England (7 years) to acquire all of the loyalty to England I ever need to know about. All of my information about Canada comes from three friends, two in AB and one in Manitoba. One of my other AB friends moved to AZ and moved two years later right back to AB. As she stated, “Once a Canadian, always a Canadian.” Nothing wrong with that. My sentiments exactly as an American.

            Cruz’s allegiance is based upon a need to satisfy his cronies in Canadian Big Oil. That’s why he is dangerous. Not because he is or isn’t a born and bred Canadian. He still isn’t a Texan anymore than Bush was. I personally find all that pretentious swagger and drawling of imported Texans to be phony. And, as we all know, “Being a Texan is all about Oil and all that implies.”

          • dtgraham

            I don’t doubt a connection between big oil in Alberta and Texas. Let’s hope that Canadian and American environmentalists can stop this thing until at least a number of technological improvements are made in both production and piping. Nebraska apparently doesn’t want it and British Columbia has refused it. That’s a start.

            Like I mentioned to Robert Hastings, I don’t blame American progressives and environmentalists for being ticked at Canada for this. I would be too. At a recent climate change conference in Durbin South Africa, young activists there could be seen wearing tee-shirts that had imprinted on the back, “Turn your back on Canada.” Coming from a country that has always been so universally respected and admired throughout the world, that was kind of hard to look at. That’s what the tar sands and Stephen Harper have done to us.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            It isn’t all Canadians…once you learn how ultra conservative Alberta is and how much of its revenues are fed into other provinces like Quebec, Nunavit, Newfoundland and PEI, you see that Alberta is the only province that has the ability to produce a highly marketable product. But now, Albertans are waking up to the fact that money has a downside when it destroys your quality of life.

            As for Texas, that state would sidle up to North Korea if they smelled oil profits in it for them. The government of Texas is killing its own with petrochemical pollution and has one of the highest cancer rates in the country. It is also Number One is pollution. When a state relies all too heavily on a single industry to prop its economy, you get what we have from most of the red states….plantation mentality. The plantations may be gone but they were replaced by the same monolithic economic thinking that a single industry is all that’s needed for state economic stability.

        • RobertCHastings

          She hit it right on the nose, didn’t she!

          • dtgraham

            If you define nose as ‘progressive beginning to lose it.’ I hope that was snark.

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        Are Texans? I love this….Texas Big Oil tries to stick yet another of their “Bushola” type plants into the presidential election and the hoochie coochies of the right can’t handle it. Ted Cruz was born in Calgary AB. Once a Canadian…always a Canadian no matter how many hairy chaps, spurs or spats you tie on him. All Cruz did was exchange the White Calgary Cowboy hat for a Texan Blackened one. Everyone who has ever had any common sense knows Canadians resent being on US coattails. Oh gee….I must have figured out the Big Oil Big Daddies next sabotage of our economy.

        • RobertCHastings

          Brilliant. Cruz’s Canadian connection just totally escaped me. No wonder he went to Texas- fertile ground for people like him, and the oil thing just makes it more interesting. Maybe tar-sands oil IS Canadian bacon grease.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            I have several friends in Calgary, Lac la Biche and Red Deer. I’ve seen the Hardisty Tar Sand Oil Mining…They don’t call it “drilling” since water cannons and chemicals are used as oil sand separators.

            I saw Cruz last night in an interview and I was shocked at his ballsy attitude until I remembered that most Canadians harbor a very deep seated albeit perhaps unconscious resentment at being on US coattails all the time. Canada is after all is said and done still a British protectorate no matter how much independence they like to claim.

            Cruz ballsyness last night was more than obvious. He clearly stated that he and his flock of birdbrained Tea Party righties have no compunctions whatever about shutting down the US government come September and not paying a dime of US bills until all funding for the healthcare reform is removed from “every piece of legislation.” Who the hell is this guy and those loonies to dare and shut down OUR government? When they pay ALL the taxes, they can do as they damn well please…till then, we cannot allow Cruz, the interlink between Keystone and Texas to become our dictator.

          • Joseph Squerciati

            I guess the good news is Ted can’t run for President

          • dtgraham

            I think he can Joseph. He qualifies as ” a natural born citizen”, and dual citizenship has never been a barrier to running for the Presidency.

          • RobertCHastings

            Unfortunately, Senator Cruz is a duly elected representative of the people of Texas, having met all the Constitutional requirements for that position and having been sworn in (as well as at). However, as Constitutionally empowered voters and American citizens, we have the right and the responsibility to let mr. cruz know the full extent of our displeasure with his antics. While Canada is a generally innocuous neighbor filled with well-meaning people, and I would hate to appear as meaning them ill, I do wish they would take him back.

          • dtgraham

            Not a bad idea Robert. It would take him off American’s hands and he would have no place in public life in Canada with his beliefs. He would have to change substantially on a whole host of issues to even get a PC riding nomination in the most Progressive Conservative Province of Alberta.

            You know, I don’t blame American progressives for being cheesed at the Canadian Harper government for trying to cajole a U.S. President into accepting a horribly toxic bitumen pipeline with a terrible environmental and maintenance track record. Not to mention it’s effect on global warming. The Canadian Federal Gov’t is the villain here and I would feel the same way toward Canada if I were an American progressive.

            All I can say is, that the Canadian Provinces have a lot of enumerated powers under the BNA Act. Some of them have already given Stephen Harper the pipeline finger, and he’ll be replaced in 2015 if the polls mean anything. The Liberals, Greens, and NDP have a different attitude and approach towards the oil sands.

    • sigrid28

      I agree that Cruz is poses a problem for all Republicans and for the country as a whole if he ever gains national office or a cabinet appointment. Is he a smart guy who recognizes the risks of defaulting on the national debt and shutting down the government, which he proposes in order to elevate himself among the far right of the Republican party? Or is he so consumed by ambition that such consequences never occur to him, as he thrusts himself as a character on the stage of national politics? If he were smart, he would vote against measures that other Republicans join Democrats in passing, and take his show on the road during his next campaign for office–hoping people will forget. If he is a demagogue hoping to gain traction by saying dangerous stuff, it is very possible that he has miscalculated his opposition.

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        Cruz has first allegiance to Canada. If you were a Canadian and your neighbors to the south was a super power, wouldn’t you resent being on their coattails as Canada has always been? Cruz’s Canadian birth is why he’s so dangerous. If he can’t place his hand on a Bible and swear first allegiance to the US, you know he’s a GOP plant. Why else would they Texify the only possible male from the only Big Oil Province in all of Canada? That Keystone deal between former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein and George W. Bush between 2006 and 2008 was believed by Albertans to be a “done deal” according to their media. Before it was even brought before our own Congress for review?

    • dtgraham

      He probably wouldn’t mind major disaster because he’s an economic Libertarian anarchist who would love to pick up the pieces and rebuild America in the Tea Party’s image.

      You’re going off the deep end on your theories here Eleanore. Cruz is about as far from Canadian politics as I can imagine. Cruz has no emotional ties to Canada I’m sure. Any minor disagreement that Canada and Canadians might have with their friend and ally to the south, from time to time, has nothing to do with any weird resentment due to membership in the British Commonwealth or the status of the French Language in Quebec and Canada. Membership in the Commonwealth is a voluntary association and none of the members are protectorates any more. Canada, and all member nations, celebrate their British heritage. It’s not a point of resentment. Monarchy Societies are still going strong. Canada has also embraced the French language. Heck, close to half of the debate in the House of Commons is done in French any more. You’re way off here Eleanore.

      Relax kiddo. Canada is not out to get you and we’re all on the same team on this website. We’re all liberal/progressives in arms no matter where we live. An interesting Nanos poll was done last fall in Canada, asking Canadians who they would vote for in the upcoming U.S. elections if they could. Of those who knew enough to respond, it was so overwhelmingly Obama over Romney that Nanos reported that Canada would be challenging the District of Columbia as the most reliable area for Democratic votes if it were the 51st State.

  • Jim Myers

    This looks like a no win situation for Mitch McConnell.


    Bring out the popcorn, the show is just starting!

  • ridemybroom

    M and M doesn’t have a problem…he is the problem… until the problem is eradicated he will always be the problem !!

  • ragzamuffin

    I read that China now owns the pipeline. How would that complicate matters.

    • dtgraham

      Not the pipeline but some of the oil sands. The China National Offshore Oil Company—or CNOOC, made a 15.1 billion dollar investment in Nexen. Nexen is one of Canada’s largest energy companies and holds strategic assets all over the world including a sizeable portion of Alberta’s oil sands. To say this has caused an uproar in the Canadian Parliament and media is putting it a little mildly. The pipeline is still owned by TransCanada though.