Mitch McConnell and the GOP: Filibusted

Mitch “Sad Turtle” McConnell

Mitch McConnell is having quite a week.

Earlier this week, Senate Majority leader and sad turtle McConnell led Senate Republicans in boldly not voting for a UN treaty to protect disabled people. And then yesterday, he had to filibuster his own bill when Senate Democrats called his bluff.

The bill in question would turn the power of raising the debt ceiling over to the executive branch and leave the legislative branch out of it. The President would ask to raise the debt limit, and if Congress wanted to stop him from doing so, they would have 15 days to pass a joint resolution of disapproval. The President could veto that resolution, and then Congress could override the veto with a 60 percent majority in each the Senate and the House of Representatives.

McConnell brought the bill forward claiming that the Democrats didn’t have enough votes to pass it. And, well…this happened.

McConnell threw out a bill like there weren’t enough Democrats to vote for it, Harry Reid called McConnell’s bluff, and McConnell panicked and filibustered his own bill. Brilliant.

I bring this video to your attention not only to laugh at how ridiculous it is, but to use the filibuster as another example of the Republican Party leadership refusing to accept what the electorate told them in November.

Obama won the election, with a mandate to level the economic playing field for working and middle class families. And those families believe that he and the Democratic Party’s leadership can do a better job of straightening out the economy than the Republican Party’s leadership: a recent poll showed that 45 percent of Americans believe that Democrats will do a better job dealing with the Fiscal Showdown, while 39 percent of Americans believed that Republicans would do best.

And by looking at the plans, the Democratic Party leadership seems to have its values in order. Their tax plan is designed to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans while giving tax relief to individuals making less than $200,000 a year, or couples making less than $250,000 a year – the majority of the country. The Republican Party leadership’s plan, on the other hand, is to give tax cuts to the top earners in hopes that the wealth will trickle down. And they’re holding the Democrats’ plan hostage until they get their way – unless the Walz Petition passes, the Middle Class Tax Act will remain GOP Legislative Prison.

Herein lies the problem for GOP leadership: the ideology of the party has strayed so far from the fiscally responsible, moderate precepts that once defined it that they’re now alienating more people than they’re helping. And the leadership is too focused on beating Obama in battle after they’ve already lost the war.

After the election, the GOP leadership didn’t set out to evaluate exactly where they went wrong with policy. They went on the offensive against Romney, blaming him for all of the problems plaguing the party. This isn’t to say that Romney’s candidacy was without its problems, of course.

But instead of picking a scapegoat for all of the party’s unlikeability, what the GOP should have done is taken inventory of their platform and actions to see what drove people away – they wouldn’t have to look all that far. This election cycle, the GOP fought for the rights of the rich rather than the middle and working class, as evidenced with this Fiscal Showdown and their unwillingness to compromise. They’re fighting against unions across the country; in states like Michigan they’re trying to enact so-called “Right to Work” legislation (a wonderfully Orwellian turn of phrase if ever there were one), laws that actually discourage higher pay and benefits. They tried to take an ax to women’s rights – not just in the reproductive realm, but the economic realm as well in the fight for equal pay – as if progress had never been made. They tried to disenfranchise thousands of young people and minorities. Their budget aimed to cut spending on critical assistance programs. And they fought against LGBT rights every step of the way.

Mitch McConnell’s self-filibuster is just one example of a party unwilling to move forward, one that would rather shoot down its own ideas and shoot itself in the collective foot than compromise. It shows a party unwilling to listen to the people they supposedly govern – and it’s not a pretty picture.

2 replies »

  1. Sad turtle. Nice.

    Usually, there’s an auto-correct that happens with parties. If they get too far out of whack, then they readjust to move back to the middle. It’s a strange lurching motion, but it usually gets them back to some sort of centrism. In game theory, it’s called the ice cream stand problem.

    But in this case, they have these built-in intransigent interest groups (social conservatives, “greed is good” rich people) who just will not let them move. There has to be new party formation at some point.