McConnell Proposes More Government Shutdowns

With it looking fairly likely that the Republicans will take control of the Senate after the November midterm elections, Sen. Mitch McConnell, who would then be majority leader, has laid out his plan for “governing” if that should happen. It involves a strategy that has never worked before.

Mitch McConnell has a game plan to confront President Barack Obama with a stark choice next year: Accept bills reining in the administration’s policies or veto them and risk a government shutdown.

In an extensive interview here, the typically reserved McConnell laid out his clearest thinking yet of how he would lead the Senate if Republicans gain control of the chamber. The emerging strategy: Attach riders to spending bills that would limit Obama policies on everything from the environment to health care, consider using an arcane budget tactic to circumvent Democratic filibusters and force the president to “move to the center” if he wants to get any new legislation through Congress.

In short, it’s a recipe for a confrontational end to the Obama presidency.

“We’re going to pass spending bills, and they’re going to have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy,” McConnell said in an interview aboard his campaign bus traveling through Western Kentucky coal country. “That’s something he won’t like, but that will be done. I guarantee it.”

In other words, the same blackmail strategy that failed for Gingrich in 1995 and for Ted Cruz in 2013: Concede to our wishes on laws that were already passed or we will shut down the government. Ezra Klein points out the obvious result:

So McConnell intends to unleash a tactic that will almost inevitably end with shutdowns — whether he wants them or not. This might make sense if Barack Obama were running for reelection in 2016: the shutdown hurt his popularity, too, and perhaps it would make sense for congressional Republicans to mount a kamikaze mission against his third term.

But Obama isn’t up for reelection in 2016. These shutdowns will be a disaster for the Republican Party that will help elect Hillary Clinton — and help Harry Reid retake the Senate. Republicans will end up backing controversial positions with wildly unpopular tactics and the Democrats will take full advantage when they face the friendlier presidential electorate.

For that reason, winning the Senate in 2014 will be a double-edged sword for Republicans. All else equal, it’s of course better to hold more seats than fewer. But all else isn’t equal. The internal pressures of the Republican Party are such that if Republicans win the Senate in 2014 they’ll probably chart a course that makes it likelier they’ll lose both the Senate and the White House in 2016.

As Klein points out, if they do use this tactic and Obama vetoes the bill, the Republicans will have two choices: They can either shut down the government (which is wildly unpopular, as past experience has shown) or they can strip out the language that triggered the veto and pass the spending bills again. That second option will trigger a huge outcry from the Tea Party base, which will prompt more challenges from the right in the 2016 election. And with people like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul trying to position themselves for the presidential primary, which requires appealing to the base, they’ll be in full revolt over it. The Republicans will find themselves in the middle of the same shitstorm that hit them last year.

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  • Chiroptera

    Good, idea, Republicans. Do this during the two years just before the next Presidential election.

    It’s almost like the Republicans never want to see another Republican president ever again.

  • John Pieret

    They keep acting like Obama gives a shit now. He’s run his course and if the Republibaggers want to shoot themselves in the foot, he’ll gladly hand them the bullets.

  • Mr Ed

    Purity to cause is value above all else even if it is a suicide pact.

  • sharonb

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer party.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    The Republicans will find themselves in the middle of the same shitstorm that hit them last year.

    Thanks, Obama!

  • LightningRose

    “…force the president to “move to the center””

    What a good idea! He really needs to be more liberal.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

    force the president to “move to the center”

    Considering how far he already leans to the right as a “Marxist”, I dread to think of the howls of rage if he actually moves to the center.

    I really don’t get this. How the hell does the GOP even have a chance of winning the Senate, let alone having it look likely?

  • http://www.thelosersleague.com theschwa

    Dear Supreme Court Justices: Please do not die for 2 more years.

  • raven

    I really don’t get this. How the hell does the GOP even have a chance of winning the Senate, let alone having it look likely?

    Yeah, me neither.

    The GOP doesn’t poll well but they keep winning elections.

    Purity to cause is value above all else even if it is a suicide pact.

    The ultimate responsibility for this suicide pact are the American people. The voters. People keep electing these guys.

  • http://www.thelosersleague.com theschwa

    “I really don’t get this. How the hell does the GOP even have a chance of winning the Senate, let alone having it look likely?”

    Gerrymandering.

  • vereverum

    @ Mr Ed #3

    Purity to cause is value above all else even if it is a suicide pact.

    “God willing, we will prevail, in peace and freedom from fear, and in true health, through the purity and essence of our natural… fluids. ” — General Ripper (as reported by Gen. Turgidson).

  • Pierce R. Butler

    theschwa @ # 10: Gerrymandering.

    That accounts for much of what we see in the House of Reps and in state legislatures, but the only “solution” along such lines for the national Senate would require changing multiple state boundaries to both reduce the number of (proportionately over-represented) rural states and increase Senate representation of urban areas.

    I for one will not hold my breath.

  • jeevmon

    It’s not gerrymandering – Senators are elected on a statewide level, not a district level, so the kind of gerrymandering that affects House elections doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the parties have basically become regional parties – with the Democrats holding the Northeast, upper Midwest, and West Coast, and the Republicans holding the old Confederacy (except for Virginia of late), the Plains, the mountain states (except for Colorado of late), and the Southwest except for New Mexico.

    While there are a lot of ways to mark where the parties divide, one useful one is population density. The more urban an area, the more likely it is to be Democratic, and the more rural an area, the more likely it is to be Republican. The Senate vests a lot of power in thinly-populated states, so there’s already a numerical edge for the Republicans, at least the way the parties are presently configured. The Democrats are defending a number of tough seats this year, some picked up in the 2008 election and some that are just in territory that has become harder for Democrats to win in. (Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, for example). The Republican seats up this cycle are more safe for them. A

  • Synfandel

    …Sen. Mitch McConnell, who would then be majority leader…

    In order to be majority leader, he will have to win his own seat and he appears to be in a horse race against Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky.

  • http://pandarogue.blogspot.com Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    The Republicans are going to win the Senate if Democratic voters don’t come out to vote. Also, Democratic senators have to defend more seats than the Republicans.

  • vereverum

    @ Pierce R. Butler #12

    but the only “solution” along such lines for the national Senate would require changing multiple state boundaries

    You mean like this?

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/map-u-s-redrawn-as-50-states-with-equal-population

  • D. C. Sessions

    There are two issues here:

    1) McConnell wants to be majority leader

    2) The Republican party is not focused on results, only on theater.

    If McConnell goes along with the Party, the Republicans will lose spectacularly in 2016. If he doesn’t, Ted Cruz will be Majority Leader and the Party will lose epically in 2016.

    Decisions, decisions.

  • vmanis1

    A good part of the possibility of GOP Senate control comes from the fact that more Dems are up for re-election than Republicans. Daily Kos today pegged the chance of Dem control of the Senate at 47%, based upon an aggregate of polls. Since polls are volatile, there is lots of room to change it, so those who don’t wish the GOP to assume control and who live in states where there is a Senate election know what to do: organize and GOTV.

    Should the GOP win, then you can be sure that the Dems will attempt to filibuster most if not all of their proposals. This will result in immediate filibuster reform—a Good Thing, even though it was a very Bad Thing when the Dems took modest steps in that direction. Of course, this can be called hypocrisy, but I am sure that the GOP will respond with a duet between Sen. McConnell (Speaker) and Sen. Cruz (Dark Lord) (with apologies to George M Cohan’s `Harrigan’):

    H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E spells `hypocrite’

    Proud of all the Tea Party that’s in me; Divil that Fox can say a word agin me.

    H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E spells `hypocrite’, you see

    Is a name that a shame never has been connected with, Hypocrite, That’s me!

    (And yes, I am well aware that virtually every politician is something of a hypocrite, but regular hypocrisy is to this kind of thing as knocking over a sandcastle is to the Chicxulub meteor impact that helped wipe out the dinosaurs.)

  • DaveL

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer party.

    Wouldn’t happen to a nicer party.

  • dingojack

    Go Mitch, go! *

    Dingo

    ———

    * Hey it’s sure to be much more vote-winning this time, right?

    @@

  • dingojack

    What’s that definition of insanity again?!?

    Dingo

  • Al Dente

    What’s that definition of insanity again?!?

    You mean “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results”? Incidentally, while this quote is usually attributed to Albert Einstein there’s no evidence he actually said it.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Al Dente “Incidentally, while this quote is usually attributed to Albert Einstein there’s no evidence he actually said it.”

    Ironically, the truth is that he said it over and over and over again, to no effect.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Should the GOP win, then you can be sure that the Dems will attempt to filibuster most if not all of their proposals.

    No, because the first item of business in a new Congress is to adopt the rules by simple majority. And this time around. the Republicans will not repeat every previous Congress and adopt the previous rules by acclamation. They won’t wait for the Democrats to filibuster one single thing. Just like the House in 2011, they’ll have a whole shiny new set of rules that will put McConnell in complete charge of every single thing, to a degree that DeLay wouldn’t have tried. And no supermajorities required for legislation, no way to break anything loose if McConnell buries it, and for all I know a supermajority required for every single Executive appointment.

    McConnell saw what it cost Reid and Obama to play by the rules and won’t repeat that mistake.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    vereverum @ # 16: You mean like this?

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/map-u-s-redrawn-as-50-states-with-equal-population

    Boy howdy, what a piece of work! I hope a Michener of parallel universe stories builds a career from that map.

  • lorn

    raven @ #9:

    A lot of it has to do with the GOP taking over most of the state legislatures and using their power to redistrict democrats into a smaller number of very secure seats while placing Republicans into a larger number of similarly secure seats. If there was equal representation Democrats would have solid majorities in both the US house and senate. Partisan redistricting keeps equal representation from happening.

  • http://drx.typepad.com Dr X

    When are the FEMA camps supposed to open? It could make all of this irrelevant.

  • Scr… Archivist

    Here is a recent piece on FiveThirtyEight about why the Senate is a close call: http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/six-consistently-close-races-will-probably-decide-control-of-the-senate/

    And as for the map posted by vereverum @16, I like it. Leave the states as the accidents that they are, but we should elect Senators by population-based districts. Currently, the people in low-population states get more Senatorial power per capita than those of us in high-population states. Changing that would improve our politics (assuming, of course, that we can use GIS to prevent gerrymandering).

  • D. C. Sessions

    Leave the states as the accidents that they are, but we should elect Senators by population-based districts.

    That’s not even possible by a Constitutional Amendment (and remember, an Amendment is ratified by the States, not by the people.

    For that to happen, we would need a whole new constitution.

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    Currently, the people in low-population states get more Senatorial power per capita than those of us in high-population states.

    Do you think that at the UN General Assembly countries with larger populations should get more votes? Is it fair that countries with small populations have more per-capita power than the big countries? Should Mexico have eight times more votes than Senegal?

  • colnago80

    Re heddle @ #30

    This is a terrible analogy and is unworthy of a professor of physics and a math department chairman. There is a profound difference between the UN General Assembly and the US Senate. The former is nothing but a powerless debating society that has no authority to do anything (only the Security Council has any authority to do anything, provided that one of the 5 permanent members doesn’t veto a resolution). The latter has great power to influence what happens in this country, for good or evil and is, at least in theory, co-equal with the House and the other 2 branches of government.

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    Re colnago80 #31,

    I’ll take that as “that is rather an inconvenient analogy” since you said nothing of substance. You completely avoided the question which is totally reasonable– is all representation that is not population based unfair? Or is some (such as at the UN) OK? If so, why? Arguing that the General Assembly is powerless is a diversion.

    OK, what about the EU? Is that ineffective and powerless? Should Germany have 13 votes to Finland’s 1? If not, why not?

    And, ffs, my term as math department chair ended a year ago. I know once you latch onto a name/phrase you never give it up–but.. ah, whatever. Who gives a shit?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=523300770 stuartsmith

    #32

    Your argument seems to be equivalent to saying that we shouldn’t worry about fraud, because we’re okay with people cheating at Monopoly. The UN is obviously unfair – 5 states have total veto power, and one of them is fucking England. Seriously, England can overrule the entire population of the world. No one in their right mind is going to argue that the UN is fair. Fairness isn’t the point of the UN, and doesn’t matter because it has no real power. The UN serves primarily as a forum in which states can take out their frustrations on one another by snubbing and insults in a social setting, kind of the high-school lunch room of the world. It seems to operate on the hope that the more ways you give people to be assholes without actually starting a war, the less wars will be started by assholes.

    By contrast, the Senate is a democratically elected body that has immense power over the lives of those who elect it. Its decisions matter, so its fairness is a matter of great import. It grants people far greater say in the course taken by their society if they choose to live in a sparsely populated state than a heavily populated one. It makes sense that people in heavily populated states, which are generally the primary contributors to the well-being of the nation, would feel somewhat miffed at having their voice muted.

    That said, I’m pretty sure I remember learning in Social Studies that the senate was conceived with providing equal representation for individual states without regard for population as its purpose, so complaining that it does so seems to just be an argument against having a senate at all.

  • colnago80

    Re Heddle @ #32

    I was unaware that the good professor’s tenure as math department chairman had expired. Having now been informed of this, I will no longer refer to him as such. Correction noted.

    Actually, it’s the blogs resident physics professor who has moved the goal posts. Having been shot down in equating the US Senate with the UN General Assembly, he now brings up the issue of the European Union. This analogy isn’t too good either as, in actual fact, the major nations therein, namely Germany, France, and Great Britain, in fact call the shots. He who pays the money calls the tune.

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    colnago80 #34,

    Using a different example is not “moving the goalposts”. I used the UN example–you sidestepped answering even in principle by calling the UN powerless–and so I gave a different example, the EU. That one you sidestep by saying–nope, doesn’t count– because a few nations call the shots. Regardless of whether or not that is defensible, once again you do not answer, even in principle. In principle, in the EU, should Germany have 12 times the votes as Finland? If not, why not?

  • dingojack

    Strange, I don’t remember ever voting for my UN representative(s). But you might remember voting for your Senator…

    Dingo

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    DJ #36,

    Strange, I don’t remember ever voting for my UN representative(s). But you might remember voting for your Senator…

    Fair enough– but, as a point of clarification, are you saying that

    a) Given their population disparity, it is not fair that California and Wyoming have the same senate representation because senators are elected, but

    b) It is fair, in spite of their population disparity, that Finland and Germany each have one vote in the EU because the EU reps are not voted for directly.

    That is what I infer from your comment. Am I correct? Or is being flippant as much of a stand that you want to take?

  • D. C. Sessions

    You completely avoided the question which is totally reasonable– is all representation that is not population based unfair?

    We could, of course, ask our resident expert (yes, an actual professor of political science) but I’ll stick with thought experiments:

    1) Is anything short of perfect equality (i.e. my vote is worth neither more nor less than anyone else’s) “unfair,” and thus a state which depends upon that “unfair” voting system not “representative?”

    2) If not (1), then is there any limit to the degree of disproportion which a state can have and still legitimately consider itself “representative?”

    3) If there is a limit per (2), how close is the United States to that limit?

    Reductio ad absurdem left as an exercise for the reader.

  • dingojack

    Heddle (#37) – Nope — the point was simply the one stated….

    You did well to see that cunningly hidden point, then cunningly managed to completely fumble it. 3/10

    Dingo

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    DJ #39,

    Yep I missed it (and still do). It still looks to me like you don’t want to take a position. Your cunningly hidden point are too subtle for me. My bad.

  • colnago80

    Re Heddle @ #37

    Actually, it’s even worse then I stated. In terms of economic policy, Chancellor Angela Merkel is effectively the dictator of Europe. Don’t believe it, just ask Spain and Greece. Of course, she can’t be all bad as she has a PhD in physics, just like us, and was once a college professor in the subject just like you.

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    Of course, she can’t be all bad as she has a PhD in physics

    I did not know that. She rocks.

  • colnago80

    Re Heddle @ #42

    Chancellor Merkel’s husband has a PhD in quantum chemistry and teaches chemistry at a German university. Quite the academic family.