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Mitch McConnell Doesn't Care about You
Risk economic calamity? Dismantle the safety net? Wreck democracy? Doesn't bother him.
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Mitch McConnell has been at it again. Oh, Mitch. Why must you keep devising new ways to exemplify hypocrisy and showcase your all-consuming love for power, your obvious hostility toward working people and your overwhelming cynicism?
Mitch is an easy target. All I need to do is mention Mitch and what he did to Merrick Garland—or what he refused to do for the last eight months of the Obama administration—to elicit fury.
Or recount what he did to Garland, President Obama and every one of us who believes in fairness, and then—trigger warning—pushed through Amy Coney Barrett in the last two weeks before the 2020 election.
Or that Mitch, who voted against impeaching Donald J. Trump after the January 6 insurrection, then made a speech on the Senate floor acknowledging the attack resulted from “wild falsehoods [fed] by the most powerful man on Earth, because he was angry he'd lost an election…a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty”—and then, less than a month later, said he’d “absolutely” support Trump if he wins the nomination in 2024.
Hypocrisy, thy name is Mitch.
But Mitch doesn’t care. He got three Supreme Court justices in. He got over 200 federal judges in. He got a $2.3 trillion tax cut in for his rich pals.
Mitch was the guy who proudly announced that his top goal was to make Obama a one-term president, then enabled four years of Trump desecrations to the presidency and democracy.
And now—because enough is never enough—he’s shown us that he’s absorbed the Putin project of sowing chaos by not only refusing until the last minutes to raise the debt ceiling but insisting when asked that he had no demands. He was just not going to do it. And every Republican was right there with him.
Forget hypocrisy. This is naked nihilism.
Mitch may have blinked on Wednesday for a short-term reprieve by agreeing to let the Democrats raise the debt ceiling by a simple majority. But let’s not doubt his readiness to burn down the house and put us all at risk, especially if he can blame it on Democratic extravagance and failure.
The impact on ordinary Americans? That’s of no concern to him. His focus is on those who can feed his money machine and keep his game going.
As Jane Mayer noted in The New Yorker, “Nobody has done more than he has to engineer the current campaign-finance system, in which billionaires and corporations have virtually no spending limits, and self-dealing and influence-peddling are commonplace.”
Democracy? Commitment to the institution of the Senate? Serving the country?
Nope. Mitch has shown that he’s more interested in dismantling the safety net, the thin fabric of social programs that keep so many Americans from falling into disaster.
Mitch is a very rich man. He’s ranked by Open Secrets as the 7th richest US Senator with a net worth exceeding $34 million. But clearly it’s not enough. Not for him or all the cronies he’s bent on making richer.
Mitch consistently ranks as the least popular member of the US Senate. Among registered US voters, his most recent favorability ratings hovered around 20 percent (sometimes they’re lower), yet he won re-election in Kentucky in 2020 with 57.8 percent of the vote.
How transactional and self-serving is he? In January 2019, Mitch voted to lift sanctions on Rusal, the Russian aluminum company that was previously led by Oleg Deripaska, a Putin ally and funder of former Trump campaign manager/convicted felon Paul Manafort. Days after the sanctions were lifted, Rusal executives announced they were investing $200 million in an aluminum plant in northeastern Kentucky, a deal about which Mitch insisted he did not know.
Two weeks ago, Mitch stood before the cameras and said, “Look, we all agree America must never default. The debt ceiling will need to be raised.”
Yet after McConnell and his Republican colleagues wracked up $7.8 trillion in additional public debt during the 2017 to 2021 Trump years, Mitch and every GOP Senator refused to raise the debt ceiling and risk default.
For those looking for a reason, Mitch has said that he will not do anything to help the Democrats spend trillions on infrastructure, climate change and social welfare programs. The debt limit, he tweeted three weeks ago, “is their sole responsibility. Republicans will not facilitate another reckless, partisan taxing and spending spree.”
Forget the fact that we’re talking about money almost entirely spent under Trump. Forget the fact that not raising the ceiling would be unprecedented and potentially trigger an economic crisis.
As Joshua Zeitz wrote in Politico, “It matters little to McConnell that his caucus enabled Donald Trump to grow the deficit in percentage terms by more than every other president except George W. Bush and Abraham Lincoln. His calculations are deeply cynical.”
Several weeks ago, Sen. Chuck Schumer’s spokesperson said, “Senator McConnell will go down as the first person in history to force a default, and every single American will know the Senate Republicans are to blame.” The quote was published in a New York Times story headlined “As G.O.P. Digs In on Debt Ceiling, Democrats Try Shaming McConnell.”
Shame Mitch? Fat chance. Not as long as he can drag down the Democrats.
In the weeks and months ahead, it will fall to the Democrats once again to clean up the mess the Republicans—led by their most cynical Senator—have wrought.
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