Posted tagged ‘mitch mcconnell’

He Likes Us

September 16, 2017

Chuck Schumer was overhead telling Senate colleagues that President Trump likes Democrats.  Senator Schumer said, “he likes us, or at least he likes me”. Does this sound like junior high school?

If there was a thread of evidence to believe President Trump likes anyone or if he momentarily does, that he will like you in the morning, I would like to see it. From that perspective, Schumer’s judgement is misplaced. If, on the other hand, the President’s encouraging comments towards Schumer reflect his dissatisfaction with Senate Leader Mitch McConnell or House Speaker Paul Ryan, then the President’s words make more sense.

Presumably the Presidents affectionate words flowed from a tit for tat offer Senate Minority Leader Schumer made offering help on passing certain legislation the President wanted in return for a favorable outcome on a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) bill. For President Trump a deal is a deal and his Schumer agreement represented something Ryan and McConnell have been impotent upon.

DACA immigrants represents some of the best of the best. These are fully assimilated  young Mexican Americans who know far more about the States than about a country they left as a child. Many of these DACA immigrants are in college or in training programs and are working hard to make something of themselves. So why would anyone think that deporting these Mexicans was in America’s best interest?

“They jumped the line”, we hear some say. “They are here illegally” the righteous pronounce. “They are taking American jobs” still others claim. And the really cynical say, “DACA is a route to citizenship, and that’s amnesty”.

One does not need to be an economist or a business person to recognize how misplaced these xenophobic claims are. And that is partly why Schumer’s claims are so surprising.
President Trump was elected with a large assist from xenophobic immigrant haters.

Schumer’s claim strikes fear into this block of Trump supporters. Is Donald Trump just another politician who is now abandoning this loyal group once again?

Senator McConnell is shrewd politician who carries few moral or ethical crosses.  He ia crafty and can be persuasive on key issues. McConnell’s majority, however, is thin (two votes on a good day), and when McConnell needs to get 50 votes for a dubious bill such as Healthcare, he finds it impossible to push water up hill.

House Speaker Ryan is new to his role and possibly lacks the shrewdness and questionable ethics of McConnell.  Ryan does, however, own about a 50 seat plurality over Democrats.  Unfortunately for Ryan, his House majority is an ideologically split group with little hope of finding a common position on most issues.

As a consequence, President Trump has become disheartened with his Republican Congress leadership and may be thinking there might be another way.

Some speculate that President Trump’s real interest is tax reform and the Schumer kind words are a gambit to soften up Schumer.  Senator Schumer is also a shrewd politician and should be able to take care of himself.

Lets hope that the loyal opposition remembers the voters who gave Hillary a majority of the popular vote and in his joy of being “liked”, does not agree to legislation which hurts the country.


Buying Votes?

August 26, 2017

President Trump cast his net this week in hopes of garnering votes for the 2020 election. Given where, however, the President cast his net, it would appear his efforts were directed at keeping 2016 voters rather than earning new ones. Hmmm.

President Trump began by calling out by name Senate Leader Mitch McConnell for not leading the Senate Republican majority to a victory in the “repeal and replace” fiasco. Senator John McCain was next for his deciding “no” vote and Senator Jeff Flake gained recognition “just because”. House Speaker Paul Ryan got his “shout out” over the House failure to put forward a Federal Debt Increase bill. Rounding out the shame list was Tennessee Senator Bob Corker who questioned President Trump’s fitness as President. I wonder what the President is thinking? Does he think vinegar will bring the bees to his flowers?

Next the President showed what the conservative Christian majority is really about. Lest you wonder, Christian behavior is not the answer. The President continued his efforts (delighting this group) to reverse policies which allowed transgender persons to serve in the military. With the armed forces leadership not pressing for this reversal, one wonders why the President wished to make this unforced error (singling out and demeaning a minority group)?

To complete the trifecta, President Trump decided to teach the nation a lesson in his version of the importance of the rule of law. The Teacher in Chief pardon former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio who had been convicted on Federal contempt of court charges. When directed by court rulings to cease profiling Phoenix area residents, Arpaio simply continued. Isn’t no man above the law?

There is a consistent theme among these actions, President Trump’s 2016 winning coalition had subsegments which, on learning of these actions, sat up and said, “that’s our President”.

Calling out Congressional leaders (Congress with a low double digit opinion rating), picking a fight with the “T” of the “LGBT” community (where no problem exists), and pardoning a sheriff who gave the middle finger to Federal Courts, all clearly satisfied President Trump’s base.  Yet these actions could have unfavorable blow back for the President. So, why did the President do these things?

The answer probably lies close to the thought, “President Trump couldn’t keep himself from doing them”.

Picking on others is what a bully does. Picking on others who will not or cannot strike back is even more what bullies do. And, degrading the institutions of Congress, the Military, and Federal Courts, seemed to the President asa means to elevate his own image in comparison.

I wonder who will tell the President that in this matter, the Commander in Chief has no clothes.

Immigration Fight?

November 18, 2014

President Obama appears to be preparing to face off with GOP congressional leaders over immigration reforms. We have an estimated 11 million undocumented residents and political leaders cannot seem to find common ground upon which to decide what to do with this number.

Some sources reduce this situation to simply denying Democrats new voters were these 11 million to be somehow naturalized. Others speak mightily about the rule of law and these 11 million have broken the law and should be deported. Hmmm.

There is no single story which describes how each of the 11 million got here. In general most came to the US for employment reasons (economic hardship at home). Often a family member was here first and helped the newcomer find employment and housing. Most of the 11 million are Mexican and almost all the 11 million are good workers who perform tasks that American citizens cannot do as well or will not do at the same wage levels as these undocumented will.

Logic does not seem to work in trying to discuss undocumented residents. Who can support free and unfettered entrance to the country including our social support systems? Similarly, who can deny that most of these undocumented perform valuable and necessary work? Who can say that language is an issue, especially for those who come when they are young or have children while here? And it could be  simply fear, Hispanics make up about 16% of America’s population now and there are plenty more of them still in Mexico and nearby Central American countries.

So why again does there need to be a political fight?

The GOP has interpreted the 2014 midterm election results as a clear mandate to govern from their perspective. That means no immigration reform. The fly in the ointment is that the GOP also wants to be seen as capable of governing. The more sensible GOP minds realize that shutting down the government or just grid lock does not inspire the public.

President Obama, however, has said he will use his executive powers to make some reform unless Congress acts. To that promise, GOP leaders have been breathing fire. Why?

Why did not Senate “soon to be leader” McConnell and House Speaker Boehner just say, “hmmm, we will have to see what the President does and then we will decide whether further action is needed?”

The President certainly cannot legislate law. In fact it is the duty of the President to execute laws passed by Congress. Eleven million residents, however, are far too many to find, apprehend, and deport. Hence the President could by order direct his resources to concentrate upon criminals and not divert time and attention towards seeking to find productive undocumented. From the President’s perspective, the GOP could take its time and later make up its mind about immigration reform when it got around to it.

There is, of course, another explanation for the President’s promised action and the GOP’s promised reaction. Each side has calculated that there is little they can agree upon because the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is too far away from the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Whatever.

Immigration reform is an important issue. This 11 million undocumented issue needs to be resolved wisely.   What if the 11 million were mostly from Mali, Liberia, or Nigeria? Or what if these 11 million were mostly form North Africa or the Middle East? Mexicans are hard workers with religious and social values very similar to most Americans. If there was one group of immigrants besides Europeans the country should want, it ought to be Mexicans one would think.

I wonder how this “fight” will turn out?

Framing The Issue

January 7, 2013

If Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, were a General, he would not be the one I would bet upon to win any big battles.  In the simplest of terms, McConnell does not seem to know where the high ground lies.  Instead, he seems content to rush down any hill into dead end canyons.

On Sunday’s talk shows, McConnell said (1) if no deficit reduction progress, no debt limit extension, (2) spending was the problem in Washington so there would be no more tax increases, only spending cuts, and (3) guns were not a priority and would only be discussed after the deficit issues were resolved.  These points had to have been in his prepared notes.  So what was he thinking?

There is no political merit in raising taxes for either party.  So why draw the line?  Cutting entitlements sufficiently to make a dent in the deficit is going to be an explosive issue.  Seniors and the advocates for the poor and needy will be marching and filling the streets around the Capital so nothing moves.  And why do Republicans want to be seen as unreasonable on the gun issue before they have even heard the President’s proposal?

Generals win wars by picking where and when to fight.  Poor choices usual end up with dead Generals and losing Armies.  Are the Republicans and Senator McConnell heading the same way?

The deficit problem is mainly a “healthcare” issue.  More directly stated, how does the country provide basic healthcare with dignity to an aging or poor population in an affordable manner?  Do Republicans want to be the party who does not care about the elderly or the poor?

The tax issue is relevant mainly in how the healthcare issue is attacked.  While some modifications to Medicare and Medicaid might be possible, these changes are unlikely to be sufficient to make much of a dent in the deficit.  If for political reasons mouse bite reductions are Congress’ solution, then there will need to be additional revenue generated.  It is simply math.  But why fight the tax battle until the GOP can also say, see Democrats are not serious about cutting spending so why should we simply throw more tax dollars at the deficit?

The gun issue is again similar.  Congress must be able to deal with more than one issue at a time.  McConnell’s message was clear.  In 3 months most Americans will have forgotten about Sandy Hook Elementary and it will be much easier to talk this issue to death and no action.  Hmmm.

These issues are all about framing.  The deficit issue is mainly a cost of healthcare issue.  The tax issue is one of tax code reform.  And, the gun issue is one of which arms are sensible for the greater population in the 21st century (the answer is not zero).

Senator McConnell is getting an extension on his command largely because General Obama and other Democratic Generals are not framing the issues either.

I wonder why?  I wonder whether there is more money in it the way both parties are behaving?  If this is about campaign and special interest money, then it would look to me the Democrats are playing things wiser but equally as detestable.

Bluff Or Denial

November 14, 2012

Speaking on the Senate floor, Minority leader Mitch McConnell said that the American people voted in enough Republicans to control Congress.  That means tax rates should not be raised under any conditions.  “The President knows this and he needs to leads us to a compromise”.


Is this a bluff or simply a denial of reality?

Reality is that the House is controlled by the Democrats and the Senate is lead by the Democrats (without a super majority).  Reality is also that President Obama ran on a platform of shared sacrifice to reduce the deficit.  The President won 320 electoral votes (versus 200 for Romney).  The President arguably can say voters chose his approach over that of the Republicans.

Representative Paul Ryan has also said in an interview that he remains absolutely opposed to any increase in tax rates.  His position has not changed he says.

Republicans have suggested (being reasonable as they are) that tax code reform could increase tax revenues without increasing rates.  While this maybe true, no one has outlined how to make this fair.  Think about where the increased revenues might come from.

  • Mortgage interest deduction
  • State and Local tax deductions
  • Property taxes
  • Charitable deductions
  • Employer provided health care insurance

There are many more deductions, credits, and loopholes but these serve to highlight the point.  Each of these represents a far larger percent of discretionary income for the middle class than those earning more than $250,000.  In addition, the political process would be expected recognize this unfairness and ease the reform.  The net impact will be less increased tax revenue and the need for greater spending reductions.

Of course, Senator McConnell and Representative Ryan know this.  So why are they taking these public positions?

The President is proposing a 10 year debt reduction figure of $4 trillion as his target.  This is effectively about $400 billion each year.

Publicly the President is asking for $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue and would couple that with spending reductions to get his $4 trillion.  Frankly at this point in the debate the President is a little light on the side of spending reductions.  He is bordering on blindness to the systemic deficit problem of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.  He actually projects about $1 trillion in savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as if there will be not some other war to go fight.

So the nicest dress one can put on McConnell and Ryan’s statements is that they are bluffing.  They will bluff until there can be a behind closed doors deal which protects such benefits as capital gains and dividend treatments, inheritance taxes, and a range of special interest loopholes.  They will also bluff until they can be assured the President is serious about changes to entitlements.

But danger and risk lurk everywhere.

The President holds the ace of trump.  Unless an acceptable deal can be struck, do nothing is more acceptable to the President than the GOP.  The Bush tax cuts will expire .  The new Congress can then propose ways to lower taxes (read middle class income tax rates and 2% favorites like capital gains, inheritance, etc.  The political pressure under this scenario will lie on the backs of Republicans.

So what if McConnell and Ryan are in denial?

Well unless there is a revolt within the GOP and Republicans side with a Democratic sponsored compromise, the year end will come and the Bush tax cuts will expire.  Same game.  Hmmm.

So I have one question, why aren’t the GOP proposing savings targets for the entitlements instead of insisting upon no tax increases?  I wonder whether their posturing is not really part of a much larger bluff to get Democrats identified with entitlement cuts.

That’s what’s nice about math.  You don’t have to guess.  It either adds up or it doesn’t.


Mandate Or Obstruction?

November 7, 2012

Yesterday America voted.  President Obama won reelection winning both the popular and electoral votes.  The election margin was narrow even though the electoral margin was convincing.  Does this represent a mandate for President Obama or will he face a largely unchanged House as obstructionists?

In 2004 when President George W Bush won reelection in a squeaker, he said with great bravado, “my victory has given me a lot of political capital and I’m going to use it” (or words to that effect).  Bush proceeded to try and privatize social security.  There had been no mandate and Bush’s efforts went down in flames.

In 2012, the country is facing a serious deficit quandary.  Tax revenues are insufficient to cover expenditures to the tune of $1 trillion.  This can be called nothing other than irresponsible government.

The problem is how to balance the budget.  How does the country reduce spending (like which programs) or increase tax revenues (who pays more)?  And once there is some agreement on how to reduce the deficit, at what speed is it sensible to accomplish (6 months, 6 years, for example).

All of this is set in the context of unemployment (jobs), growing the economy, launching Affordable Care Act, and social issues such as immigration and homosexual rights.  It is reasonable to conclude that voters, by a slight majority, preferred President Obama’s position on these issues.  Is that a mandate?

Voters seemed not to accept Mitt Romney’s “chicken in every pot” approach.  He offered jobs, tax reductions,  and the end of ACA, and those promises did not sell.  Were Republican Congressional leaders listening?

Both John Boehner and Mitch McConnell’s first statements following the election seemed combative and disconnected with the election results.  Does that mean the GOP will continue as obstructionists?

The President holds far more power than just having won reelection.  Timing is everything.  If he does nothing, the Bush tax cuts will expire by law.  If Congress can not offer acceptable budget cuts, the sequestration laws will put in place mandatory cuts.  Congress will be blamed for having raised taxes on the middle class and having allowed defense spending to be cut.  This should present a strong motivator to cut a deal behind closed doors.  But will it happen?

This election demonstrated that an awful lot of Americans consider themselves Republicans.  Regardless, the GOP needs to realize that this number represents a national second place party.  The GOP is out of touch with the center.

The mandate really applies to GOP leadership and over their obstructionist ultra right faction, they must seize control and steer a new, more centrist course.

Will that happen?  Stay tuned.


And With A Straight Face…

July 10, 2012

There must be a charm school someplace in Washington, DC.  At this school, politicians are prepped on how to look directly in the camera and tell a “fib”, or any other outlandish piece of misinformation.  John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and Mitt Romney gave demonstrations yesterday of their perfected skills.

It seems all things good in this Country spring from one group of Americans.   They are, of course, the “Job Creators”.

This mythical group apparently includes hedge fund managers, investment bankers, CEOs, executives who outsourcer jobs, and anyone else earning more than $250,000 per year.  With their most sincere and serious faces, Boehner, McConnell, and Romney, woefully predicted doom and gloom if these small business owners were asked to give up their Bush tax cuts.  The world as we know it will end.

The Bush Tax Cuts are the elephant in the room.  They are set to expire by year end unless Congress agrees to extend them.  You can be sure of one thing.  The Koch brothers will not hire or let go one single worker whether the Bush tax cuts remain or are  eliminated.  From the Koch’s perspective it is more about the change in capital gains, dividends, and interest treatment that are the big bucks.  Changing the current 15% to marginal rates are big numbers.

For small business owners, census bureau data says the average small business has annual revenues of about $1.1 million.  If we assume that the owner takes profits as salary, then if the small business was very profitable, the owner might clear 25% or $276,000 per year.  With no Bush tax cuts, this owner might pay 4% more in tax ($11,000 more).

Nobody wants to pay more in taxes but death and taxes are the only things we can count upon.

The charm school value shined yesterday.  The three amigos, Boehner, McConnell, and Romney all characterized President Obama’s proposal to allow the Bush tax cuts to be extended for all those earning less than $250,000.  Speaking as if their first born had been snatched out of their arms, Boehner, McConnell, and Romney all pointed to the terrible impact this would have on job creators, especially small business owners.  How could anyone think about this in a weak economy?

Well consider this.  Our average small business owner would see no change on the first $250,000 and would see the increased 4% only on $26,000 above the $250,000.  The tax impact would be about $1000.  You must be dreaming if you think any business owner who believed there was demand for his product or service would not hire to meet this demand because of a $1000 tax increase.

Charm is wonderful, but a straight face is even better.