McConnell’s Priority: Gutting EPA Regulations

Mitch McConnell, who will become the Senate Majority Leader in January, did an interview that revealed his agenda once he takes control of that legislative body. And the first priority, apparently, is to gut environmental regulation that reduces the profits of his paymasters.

But when it comes to looking out for Kentucky, a promise that was central to McConnell’s campaign message, the senator said his top priority is “to try to do whatever I can to get the EPA reined in.”

“It will be hard because the only good tool to do that … is through the spending process, and if (President Barack Obama) feels strongly enough about it, he can veto the bill,” McConnell said. “But I view it as a complete outrage that he could not get cap and trade through the Congress when he owned the place — owned the place — and decided to do it anyway.”

As he rattled off the coal-producing counties he won Tuesday for the first time in his career, McConnell said he feels a “deep responsibility” to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon dioxide emissions at coal-burning power plants.

“I’m absolutely convinced from the people I talk to around the country, not just here but around the country, that coal has a future,” McConnell said. “The question is whether or not coal is going to have a future here. It’s got a future in Europe. It’s got a future in China, India, Australia. But not here?”

He added: “It makes me very angry, and I’m going to do everything I can to try to stop them.”

So he’s revealed both his goal and his strategy. As the Senate Republicans will almost certainly do with Obamacare, they will attempt to get their agenda passed by using poison pill amendments to larger spending bills to force the president to decide which policies are worth the fallout of vetoing the bill to kill the amendment. It’s a game of political chicken to see who will blink first, guided by lots of internal polling to determine which side the public will blame for it.

You can expect this dynamic to play out repeatedly over the next two years. The first really big fight will undoubtedly be over the debt ceiling, which will have to be raised around February. Republicans will use the threat of shutting down the government to try to extract concessions from Obama on several issues, including the EPA and Obamacare. Both sides will then calculate the potential damage in the eyes of the public and to the actual functioning of the government.

But McConnell has a big problem. He’s a pragmatist by nature, not a fire-breathing Tea Partier. He understands that compromise is necessary and that politics is the art of the possible. But he has maybe 8-10 people in his caucus, led by Ted Cruz, who view all compromise as betrayal and demand absolute ideological purity. And those people will try to use whatever leverage they have — their votes are enough to negate the Republican advantage — to force McConnell to be far less open to negotiation than he would otherwise be.

Remember the fight over the debt limit a year ago that shut down the government for a while? Expect that scenario to play itself out all over again. And expect similar fights over specific appropriations bills as well.

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

    1. McConnell will try to force things he wants through, playing chicken with Obama.

    2. Cruz will try to force things McConnell wants through, playing chicken with McConnell who also wants those things.

    3. [Person] will try to force things that [Previous Person] wants through, playing chicken with [Previous Person] who also wants those things.

  • eric

    It’s got a future in Europe. It’s got a future in China, India, Australia. But not here?”

    I’m willing to bet that both Europe and Australia have more stringent environmental regulations on coal plants than we do. AIUI, our coal plant regulations only kick in when people build new plants: old plants are basically grandfathered in and can spit out all sorts (and large amounts of) of noxious chemicals.

  • raven

    I’m sure coal has a future in the USA.

    What is eating coal’s lunch right now isn’t the EPA or Obama. It’s cheap natural gas from fracking.

    As soon as that runs down we will go back to burning coal.

  • busterggi

    McConnell will have the same problem Boehner has had – you can’t lead people who are too insane to follow.

  • John Pieret

    coal has a future

    Sure … it will likely wreck the future of McConnell’s grand children and great-grand children. But he doesn’t care as long as saying something like that advances his career, no matter what it does to his kith and kin.

  • abusedbypenguins

    He’s a whore. He says what he is paid to say by those who own him.

  • raven

    Sure … it will likely wreck the future of McConnell’s grand children and great-grand children.

    Not that much. McConnell has become very wealthy recently from his senate leadership position. His descendants can afford to move further north and uphill. Being rich means not having to say you are sorry.

    Global warming is mostly going to impact poor people who can’t afford to adapt. McConnell is wrecking the future of most of the current world’s descendants. And could care less.

  • http://denkeensechtna.blogspot.com Deen

    It’s got a future in Europe.

    Guess McConnell’s not really following the international news.This was announced just last week: Denmark wants to phase out coal entirely by 2025.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    Yeah, eastern Kentucky coal country, the happiest place on Earth. Other than the grinding poverty, severe underdevelopment, drug and alcohol addiction, etc., what has coal not done for Kentucky?

  • raven

    Shale Gas Takes On Coal To Power America’s Electrical …

    www. forbes. com/…/shale-gas-takes-on-coal-to-power-americas-electrical…

    May 30, 2012 – Ultracheap gas started to displace coal, coal prices fell to remain … the US power-generators that have taken advantage of low natural-gas …

    1. I’m really not seeing what McConnell is doing here. What has hammered coal is cheap natural gas from fracking.

    In the real world, McConnell should take on fracking and natural gas producers to keep the coal industry dominant. (I’m sure the Koch brothers are shaking in their boots over that one.)

    2. This should read. McConnell guts EPA regulations to look busy and just because he wants to toss more industrial pollution around in poor areas for the benefit of the ultrarich and corporations.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    “But I view it as a complete outrage that he could not get cap and trade through the Congress when he owned the place — owned the place — and decided to do it anyway.”

    What a dishonest and hypocritical toad.

    The cap and trade bill passed Congress, was supported by the President, and had a majority of Senators willing to vote for it. But it couldn’t muster a 60 vote supermajority to pass a filibuster threat led by… Mitch McConnell.

    This was after the President explained to him that he was probably going to get a better deal through legislation, because the courts had already authorized him to act through the EPA. But McConnell had decided on a strategy of scorched-Earth obstructionism, and was prepared to bully any Republican Senator who might want something out of the deal. So the bill couldn’t get 60 votes.

    Then environmental groups sued the EPA claiming that the Clean Air Act not only allowed but mandated emissions reductions. The courts agreed. So Obama, having effectively been ordered by the courts, set about implementing an emissions plan.

    And here were see McConnell throwing a childish tantrum over a turn of events that he was entirely responsible for and fully aware of.

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

    Area Man “And here were see McConnell throwing a childish tantrum over a turn of events that he was entirely responsible for and fully aware of.”

    Thanks Obama!

  • D. C. Sessions

    And here were see McConnell throwing a childish tantrum over a turn of events that he was entirely responsible for and fully aware of.

    He’s not throwing a tantrum, he’s cashing in on the next phase. Obstruction was the first, keeping Americans miserable so that he could blame it on Obama (Phase Two) and elect Republicans so that he can not only block action on behalf of Americans (phase one) but actively harm them (Phase Three), making his sponsors happy (Phase Four) and Americans even more miserable (Phase Five) and of course blaming that on Obama and other Democrats (Phase Six) so that come 2016 they elect even more Republicans, including a Republican President (Phase Seven) which will make him and his sponsors very, very happy (Phase Eight.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/eo.raptor.3 eoraptor

    What I remember about the government shutdown is all the confident predictions that the Rethuglicans had just blown any chance of success in the 2014 midterm elections. I guess the lesson we should have taken is to never underestimate the belligerent stupidity of the average American voter.

  • raven

    I guess the lesson we should have taken is to never underestimate the belligerent stupidity of the average American voter.

    Not quite. This turnout was 38%, the lowest since WWII. And many of those were probable Democratic voters, young and minorities.

    Still, that just tosses the question back one step. Why didn’t they turn out to vote? These are groups more likely to be impacted than me by GOP failures, although not by much.

  • caseloweraz

    Area Man: The cap and trade bill passed Congress, was supported by the President, and had a majority of Senators willing to vote for it. But it couldn’t muster a 60 vote supermajority to pass a filibuster threat led by… Mitch McConnell.

    This is the man who immediately on Obama’s first election declared it was his first priority to defeat whatever the president proposed. His declaration here shows that he still has that as his first priority — and gives the lie to his conciliatory statement of last Tuesday night.