Mitch McConnell is gaslighting Democrats (again)

“Republicans know such aid is necessary just as well as Democrats. They say in the press that these are concessions, things they are giving up, but why should anyone else adopt that absurd framing?

By theatrically “conceding” money for hospitals, Republicans get the optics of a bipartisan achievement while ensuring that they define the limits of the possible.

Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is saying that it wasn’t a concession at all to give up funding for states, that governors are just being “impatient,” and that the next stimulus bill will contain state and local aid “in a big way.” She envisions a thoughtful, phased approach, based on demonstrated need. But there’s little reason to think Republicans will cooperate.

Think back to the debt ceiling fight of 2011. Raising the debt ceiling was also something every independent analyst agreed was necessary to keep the economy healthy. But Republicans framed it as a Democratic ask, something for which they could extract enormous concessions. They were entirely willing to gamble with the economy.”

“When Democrats pushed for state aid and McConnell suggested that it was a “blue state bailout,” an attempt to rescue fiscally irresponsible blue-state governors who had let their pension obligations get too large, he knew full well that it was bullshit. There is no moral hazard in a pandemic. There’s no point means testing states. It’s not a reward to states to bolster their budgets when consumers are literally being told by the government to stay home. It’s one reason the federal government exists.

And red states need money too — there are, after all, red-state governors pleading for help.

It makes no sense, but McConnell’s not trying to make sense. He’s just trying to put Dems on the defensive and force them to fight for the basics. He wants to frame state aid as a concession to Democrats and send a signal to the right-wing base that Democrats are up to something shady. He doesn’t give a rat’s ass about pension obligations. This is a 1,000 percent cynical maneuver. (Now Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has picked up this nonsense and run with it.)

The same goes for McConnell’s sudden concern that stimulus spending might raise the deficit too much.

Oh, please.

More than almost any other purported GOP principle, deficit concern comes and goes depending on the party’s immediate interests. It was nowhere to be found in 2017 when McConnell’s own Congress passed a giant tax cut for corporations that will add $2.6 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years. It was nowhere to be found when Trump ran up the deficit, or when George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, or Ronald Reagan ran up the deficit.” 

“for the last 15 years, McConnell has heard pundits tell him that it’s risky to obstruct too much, attack too hard, violate norms too flagrantly, or act too openly against the national interest for partisan gain. Pundits wring their hands endlessly about such things.

Democrats have heard and internalized those messages. They worry about how they look to the media and political class. But McConnell has completely ignored them, and it has redounded to his benefit again and again.

When he refused to hold confirmation hearings on Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016, everyone in the political ecosystem (outside of conservative media) warned him of the dangers, the grave risk to comity and tradition and institutional integrity. He blew them all off. For his troubles, he got Brett Kavanaugh.

(Last month, McConnell said that he would happily hold a confirmation vote on a Trump Supreme Court nominee, even in the last year of a Trump presidency. Critics accused him of hypocrisy. He didn’t care.)

McConnell used the filibuster to block everything Obama tried, and then when Democrats killed the judicial filibuster, he used that to pack the federal bench, winning on both sides.”

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