StanCollender'sCapitalGainsandGames Washington, Wall Street and Everything in Between

Does McConnell Really Want The GOP To Win The White House in 2012?

01 Jun 2011
Posted by Stan Collender

What was  Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) doing last week when he announced...proudly...that he would not allow an increase in the debt ceiling without significant cuts in Medicare?

At first blush this may not seem like that big of a deal given the continuing demands from the GOP leadership in the House for substantial spending cuts before it will allow a debt ceiling increase.  But it is.  This is not a call for reductions in general; it's insisting on cuts in an exceedingly popular specific program.  And it's not just any specific program: It's Medicare, the currently most politically sensitive program of all and the one that, because of the Republican plan to make substantial reductions, cost the GOP a House seat in upstate New York just barely a week ago.

Possible conclusions:

1.  McConnell likely can't stay as minority leader without unequivocal support from the GOP's tea party-like base and, in the wake of the widespread criticism of Newt Gingrich for abandoning the House GOP Medicare reduction plan (Newt was against it before he was for it), he used this statement and extreme position to shore up his own bona fides with that wing of the party.

2.  McConnell wants to be majority leader if the GOP takes over the Senate and needs the base to do that.

3.  McConnell is from the state that also elected Rand Paul to the Senate and he runs the chance of looking like a liberal Democrat in comparison to his junior senator if he doesn't make statements like this.

But the one that's most intriguing is that McConnell has decided that the GOP winning the White House in 2012 isn't as important to him as the GOP getting the majority in the Senate and that requires continually energizing the base rather than trying to win over independents and Democrats.

If Obama wins and the GOP takes over the Senate, (Roger Ailes aside) McConnell will be the most important and powerful Republican in the United States.   That won't be true if there's a Republican president, of course.  But if all of the best known GOP candidates lose the Republican nomination in 2012 and the 2012 nominee then loses in the general election, the next tranche of potential Republican presidential candidates will be at least two years away.  In the meantime, McConnell will be the one negotiating with the White House and stopping its initiatives.

The McConnell statement makes a great deal of sense in this context.  Openly attacking Medicare as he did strengthens his credentials with the base even if it weakens them with everyone else.  But that's okay because it's the base that's needed to elect Republicans to the Senate next year and that would strengthen McConnell even if it makes life harder...or impossible...for the GOP presidential candidate.

If this is true, the implications for what can and will happen between now and November 2012 will be clear and extreme: No compromises on any issues, especially those having to do with taxes, spending, the deficit, and national debt; further criticism of the Federal Reserve, especially if it tries to do something that improves the economy in the short-term; and little to no progress on anything that would look like a win for the White House.


it's a thing

"The Iron Law of Institutions is a proposition in the field of political science. The proposition states that the people who hold power in institutions are guided principally by preserving power within the institution, rather than the success of the institution itself."

One cannot be a Republican politician without advocating a number of false and unpopular opinions-- reducing revenues balances the budget, the science is still out on climate change and evolution, returning marginal rates to surplus-era levels on income above $250,000 is unthinkable, etc. This is about what we should expect from McConnell.

The Republican Party is generally more invested in using its Senate leaders, like Trent Lott and Bill Frist, to prove the Peter Principle. It's nice that they've paused to illustrate this other important proposition.

McConnell realizes that the

McConnell realizes that the GOP ran into a political buzz saw by voting for the Ryan plan to essentially end Medicare. If he can coerce Obama and the Dems into supporting a bipartisan plan to slice Medicare, then it's much harder for Obama and the Dems to use Medicare as a campaign issue.

If it works, he gets to kill two birds with one stone - damage a vital part of the safety net that the GOP has hated since inception and advanced his party's chances in the next election.

If doesn't work, the GOP is no worse off than it is today. If it does, they've neutralized a major threat to their power.

Look at the complexes. There

Look at the complexes.

There is no career in threatening the 'national security' PAC money by looking to cut the $690B "authorized" for the 2012 version of the military industrial complex' profit machine.

Merely, terminating the F-35 for its earned defective performance and default of Lockheed obligations under the contracts will free up a trillion bucks over the next 25 years.

But that would affect the GOP war profits base.

And he wins with the medical insurance complex lobby as well.

Two MIC's with one stand, and millions of small people in the lurch.

You guys are seriously hard core!

As someone who barely knows Mitch MCConnell's name [but does know he's Republican], and certainly couldn't ID him in a line up of 100 other white guys of undeterminate middle age, the commentary is quite interesting. The one thing I come back to myself, and you're all talking about too, is the Senate. And I guess that the Republican party has been taken over, at least for a few years, by a relatively small group of - there are other better words - nut cases.

Facing facts, one party government - either party I think - is not such a great thing - it gave us Bush era tax cuts and Iraq, and PPACA, which is a truly dysfunctional, costly system [Medicaid] expanded. Anyway, I truly do hope the Republican party renews itself, from it's current state. Dwight Eisenhower wouldn't recognize it.

I think you need to look back a few years

The implications you listed for the case where McConnell wants to be Senate Majority leader under a Democratic president look to me like the standard rulebook for GOP members of Congress under a Democratic president, 1993-present:
No compromises on any issues, especially those having to do with taxes, spending, the deficit, and national debt; further criticism of the Federal Reserve, especially if it tries to do something that improves the economy in the short-term; and little to no progress on anything that would look like a win for the White House.

I think the GOP is embracing Ryan's plan simply because they believe that Medicare is evil. It's popularity and effectiveness challenges their worldview. Ryan was the first to come up with a plan to end Medicare that the DC pundits and network talking heads were willing to pretend was not a plan to end Medicare.


Hmmm...when I read the original story, I thought it was just the other way around. McConnell WANTS the Republicans to take back the White House: that means he must get the Ryan debacle off the table, and that means he needs Obama and the Demcorats to give the Republicans cover for Medicare cuts. If they do that, then they cannot turn around and use the Medicare issue against the Republicans. It seems to me that a debt ceiling that cuts Medicare would be a political disaster for the Democrats.


Anyone remember when politicians at the very least attempted to look like they had the interests of America in mind, instead of personal power? With little, if any, check on corporate donations we are seeing the beginning of wholesale corruption that will make the "money in the freezer" scam look like peanuts.

Recent comments


Order from Amazon


Creative Commons LicenseThe content of is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Need permissions beyond the scope of this license? Please submit a request here.