Mitch McConnell Tries to Have It Both Ways

Friends, it is important for me to keep harping on this issue because we have really been betrayed in the Senate by the Republican leadership. It is abundantly obvious now that the Senate GOP played to beat the spread, not to beat the bill.Yesterday, I noted Jake Tapper asked Mitch McConnell a plainly worded question: “[W]ill that be one of your first items should you regain control of the Senate, repealing what you guys call Obama-care?”McConnell refused to say yes or no. In fact, he never answered the question.There was, however, another nugget in the interview with Tapper that needs the spotlight.From the transcript, Jake Tapper asked, “You’ve been criticized by several conservative voices, Rush Limbaugh, Erick Erickson at Redstate.com and others, for not doing enough to stop health care reform. As the Senate Democrats passed the bill, you said this fight is not over, my colleges and I will work to stop this bill from becoming law. So what are you going to do and what can you do with only 40 votes?”McConnell answered

Well, first, every single Republican opposed the measure. All of the procedural devices that are available to slow down a measure were employed. It didn’t pass until Christmas eve at 7:00 a.m. The American people are overwhelmingly opposed to the bill. I’m not sure what’s to criticize about that from a conservative point of view. And of course, the bill is not law yet. It’s still got be reconciled between the House and Senate. There are deep differences among Democrats. Every single Democrat in the Senate provided the one vote that passed this 2,700-page monstrosity. It cuts Medicare by half a trillion dollars, raises taxes by half a trillion dollars, and instead of curbing the rate of increase of insurance premiums, most Americans’ insurance premiums are going to go up.This bill is a colossal failure, and that’s why the American people were literally screaming at us, you know, please, don’t pass this bill.

Two things to point out here. First, he says “all of the procedural devices” were used to slow the bill. Second, he again falls back on “deep differences among Democrats” — the same differences he said he would exploit to kill the bill.Let’s roll the tape.On Thursday, December 3rd, Senator Jon Kyl, the Senate Minority Whip, went on the Bill Bennett show and said, “I think we can be fairly upfront about it. Our strategy is not actually to delay and not take votes. . . .Our strategy is to have a lot of good amendments and highlight the problems in the bill,” and “it is not our strategy to somehow slow things down.”This came after someone leaked the Judd Gregg memorandum that outlined all the minority rights available in the Senate to obstruct the health care legislation.1Notwithstanding the memo, Senator McConnell said

I think it’s clearly not the case that the Republicans want to delay a process that we’ve only now gotten an opportunity to participate in, since this has been a strictly partisan adventure from the beginning,” McConnell said, at one point stifling a chuckle. “But we’ll have an opportunity over a number of weeks to offer amendments.”

Then there is this rather indicting report from Congressional Quarterly. Unfortunately it is not online, but some choice highlights include:

McConnell and aides have denied Democrats’ charges that the GOP’s only plan is delay, disputing that a memorandum by Senate Budget ranking memberJudd Greggon procedural steps the minority can use to slow the bill amounts to “an obstruction manual.”Senate aides said McConnell appears to have his eye on the bill’s political implications for the fractious Democratic majority.

Yet again, McConnell seemingly based his entire strategy on the idea that the Democrats would defeat the legislation, not the Republicans. McConnell was so convinced that the Democrats would kill the bill themselves, he shut down Tom Coburn’s attempts to have all 3000 pages of the legislation read in an effort to tie up the Senate for, potentially, more than a week.

Before Thanksgiving, Sen.Tom Coburn, R-Okla., backed off a threat to force a reading of the healthcare bill. But appearing miffed, he made clear he did so reluctantly at the request of leadership.

McConnell wants to have it both ways. He is now saying that the GOP used every procedural weapon available, but said repeatedly and backed up those words with actions to prove he was not actually working to delay the legislation.Again from Congressional Quarterly:

Cracks have appeared between GOP leadership and conservatives favoring less accommodation than McConnell. When Republican objections prevented votes on amendments from the start of debate Monday to late Wednesday, Democrats used the delay to hammer the GOP for stalling. Appearing sensitive to those charges, McConnell said he had hoped for votes last Tuesday, but that some Republican senators had sought more time for floor speeches.

It’s not just McConnell appearing sensitive to being labeled an obstructionist. Even Orrin Hatch has gotten in on the game.

Nobody’s been an obstructionist. All we wanted to do was participate in the process,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said on CNN during a back and forth over the health care bill. “I think [Democrats] deserve some credit for getting it done, as bad as it is. But it’s going to wreck our country, I have to tell you. And people out there know that.”

The Senate Republicans leaders seem to think that for success with independents and Republicans they must beat the spread, but not actually beat any legislation lest they be seen as obstructionists.We have the Senate Minority Whip, the Senate Minority Leader, and the ranking minority member on the Senate Finance Committee’s health care subcommittee all saying the GOP had no intention of obstructing the health care bill. And there was action to back it up. We know it was not just spin for the media.After it’s over? We have Mitch McConnell saying the Senate GOP did everything in its power to stop the bill.The facts show just the opposite.

  1. Some people, mostly Senate staff hacks, are trying to make this about the filibuster. They say that because the GOP did not have 41 votes, the bare minimum to filibuster, the GOP could do nothing. That’s the argument of lazy intellectuals and dishonest rubes. Read Gregg’s memo. Read this post of mine.. Consider that:

    • all the GOP had to do was pick off one Democrat;
    • had the GOP promptly forced a vote, the bill would have failed because the Democrats did not have sixty votes;
    • the GOP strategy let the Democrats get to sixty votes;
    • had the GOP run the clock out to Christmas, the Democrats would have had to go home and face voters before voting; and lastly,
    • Mitch McConnell had 55 Republicans, but under his leadership it dwindled to 40. This record of success is only matched by his time as Chairman of the NRSC where, as you might have guessed, the GOP also lost seats.