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Friday, October 28, 2016

One week ago, when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gave an interview vowing that a Republican Senate majority would attach partisan riders to spending bills in an effort to blackmail President Obama into rolling back his agenda — a tactic that would almost certainly lead to another government shutdown — his campaign tried to walk back his remarks.

“Evidently Alison Lundergan Grimes’ interpretation of how the U.S. Senate works is that senators must rubber-stamp President Obama’s agenda or the government shuts down,” McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore said in response to the Democratic candidate’s critique of McConnell’s strategy. “Unlike Grimes’ commitment to the Obama agenda, Senator McConnell will fight for Kentucky priorities whether the president is interested in them or not.”

But new audio obtained by The Nation confirms that McConnell meant exactly what he said. In a June 15 speech to a Republican donor conference led by Charles and David Koch, McConnell was secretly recorded laying out largely the same case that he pitched to Politico last week:

So in the House and Senate, we own the budget. So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on health care, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board (inaudible). All across the federal government, we’re going to go after it.

To be clear: If Republicans load must-pass appropriations bills with riders to undo the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, or any other key Democratic achievements, President Obama will veto them. Unless Republicans relent, the government will shut down. McConnell’s campaign (and some impartial observers like Bloomberg View columnist Jonathan Bernstein) may claim that that isn’t the minority leader’s intent, but without the shutdown threat, Republicans would have no leverage to “go after” the Democratic agenda.

McConnell had plenty else to say at the Koch gathering (for example, he remarked that “the worst day of my political life was when President George W. Bush signed McCain-Feingold into law,” suggesting that campaign finance reform outranks 9/11 on his list of disasters). But the promise of more congressional brinksmanship will likely prove to be the key takeaway, given the obvious political implications.

Nobody should be surprised that McConnell is eager to escalate a confrontation with the White House. After all, he’s far from the only Republican to promise it. Earlier this week, Marco Rubio made similar remarks with regard to immigration. Over in the House, startlingly influential Rep. Steve King (R-IA) did the same.

Republicans are being quite honest about what the GOP would do with control of Congress. At this point, the only question is whether voters will listen.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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  • Dominick Vila

    First they bragged about the obstructionism of the last 5.5 years, which McConnell acknowledged was part of a political strategy designed to make Barack Obama a one-term President, a strategy that delayed the economic recovery and caused tremendous pain to thousands of American families. If that was not bad enough, McConnell is now promising more of the same, and his constituents love it!
    I doubt most Kentuckians are in the top 1% of earners in America. In fact, I would not be surprised if most are part of the infamous 47% that Romney so eloquently dismissed as nothing short of garbage. What is truly amazing is not so much what the greedy bastards in Washington have done and promise to continue doing, but the fact that millions of Americans don’t see anything wrong with it, and some plan to vote for the politicians who prolonged our economic woes.

    • Independent1

      Dominick, I think the problem is that millions of Americans are so caught up with their own litte worlds (trying to make ends meet, and keeping themselves entertained, etc.), that much of what McConnell is saying is going right over their heads (they’re really not paying that much attention). While at the same time. the GOP propaganda machine is churning out and disseminating bogus interpretations of what McConnell is proposing, such that to these less than attentive Americans, it ends up sounding like he’s their great savior.

      Just like how the GOP managed to brainwash millions of Americans into believing that Obama has been the biggest spending president ever, and that it’s all his fault that our debts have skyrocketed the past 5 years – all of which we know is a lie. I know I sound like a broken record, but millions of Americans instantly buy into the GOP’s lies because the GOP couches it as if the sky is falling – and people today are more riveted by the next disaster that may befall them, than they would be of the recent discovery of a wonder drug that would possibly extend their lives by 50 years.

      And it’s not just that Americans are more receptive to and will grab onto and remember negative news much more readily than positive news; the American media is much more prone to focusing on and harping on the bad news than they are good news. Getting out the good news to a wide American audience, like Obamacare is really working better in states that have run with it than anyone had really expected, is a hard sell. The media just isn’t going to run with it -but have a cop shoot someone and the media will turn it into a circus and harp on it for days.

      • highpckts

        Amen! there is no “true” journalism” anymore!!

    • McConnell and the G.O.P. are pandering to the sort of 47-percenters who do not believe they are part of the 47 percent; the ones who feel that they are entitled to handouts while women, minorities and non-Christians are not.

      More prominently, these are people who support the G.O.P.’s thinly-veiled attempts to abolish democracy and establish the same kind of plutocracy supported by their ancestors, the Torys, because they foolishly believe they will be members of the permanent ruling class when all is said and done.

      The Kentuckians McConnell panders to don’t give a flying crap about the economy. They just want to win; to get that dark-skinned upstart out of the White House and ensure that nobody but a white male Southerner is ever allowed to enter the Oval Office ever again in the future.

      • Dominick Vila

        I agree with most of what you and Independent1 said, and can only add a new dimension to it: political indifference or ambivalence. When I voted on Tuesday at a nearby First Baptist Church, there was only another elderly couple voting. Not a soul to be found anywhere. I tries to rationalize the indifference that is apparent in most districts nationwide by considering the fact that in Florida, where I live, the gubernatorial contest is between a Tea Party incumbent and a Republican lite running as a Democrat, but that would be too simplistic a conclusion to accept. The truth is that most Americans are too busy pursuing the socio-economic goals, too busy trying to overcome the challenges of the 21st century, and convinced that former President Reagan was correct when he said that government is the problem.
        Needless to say, there are other factors, but at least in midterm elections, indifference is the main culprit, and that spells disaster for us. Republicans, especially the far right, are energized, and you can count on them voting in November.

  • Lynda Groom

    Such a small minded little man and so caught up in trying to obstruct and delay badly needed action to move the country forward. One would think that over five years of accomplishing nothing would be enough even for that gentleman, but apparently he has even more damaging ideas for the nation. Will this nonsense ever end, and when will he and his ilk put country over politically driven drivel? I sincerly hope the voters of Kentucky are finally seeing through the opaque wall of obstruction that is used to hide his true character. He’s got to be retired for the good of the country.

  • FT66

    Time to shut down this old man McConnell before he does the same to the government. These kind of people are drunk of Power. They never think to let it go like anyone who is addicted to a glass of wine whenever a day passes by. Enough is enough. They are no longer helping others only to feed their own stomach. You have eaten a lot McConnell, time to leave it for others. November can’t come fast enough!

  • booker25

    Make sure this do nothing old man doesn’t get re-elected

  • ExRadioGuy15

    Anyone surprised by Sen. McConnell’s words is either suffering from severe cases of fear, ignorance and cognitive dissonance or they’re GOP Progressives and Moderates….quite possibly, both….
    Listen up, GOP Progressives and Moderates: this is your party now… not the party of Abe (Liberal), Teddy (Progressive) and “Ike” (Moderate)….the party of insurrectionist and seditious obstruction. A gang of white-collar criminals whom you’ve suborned by voting for them.
    Stop suborning their criminality and go to the polls this fall and vote for Democrats…the Democrats truly represent you now, anyway.