The midterms are just around the corner, and it’s becoming more clear that a possibility of the Senate shifting into Republican control is truly in play. With a recent Democratic Senate candidate dropping out in Montana, making that seat one that pundits believe is a definite flip, and only a few more seats needed to make that change a reality, Republican leaders are starting to talk more openly about their plans for when they have both chambers of Congress under control.
If you thought gridlock was bad for the last few years, well, seeing things get “accomplished” might be even worse.
Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell is caught in a close race with Democratic challenger Allison Grimes, and at stake might not just be his seat, but his prospective new role as Senate Majority leader. As potential future leader, McConnell is making it clear that his new role would be to do whatever the GOP demands he needs to do in order to stop the administration from accomplishing pretty much anything.
Yes, even more government shutdowns.
“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,” warns Politico’s Manu Raju.
“[Obama] needs to be challenged, and the best way to do that is through the funding process,” McConnell told Raju. “He would have to make a decision on a given bill, whether there’s more in it that he likes than dislikes.”
We already watched as the Tea Party grounded government to a halt, harming the poor, the unemployed, women, families, children and the elderly, as they tried to strong arm the government into accepting their extreme budgetary and policy demands. Back then, McConnell was one of the few Republicans trying to reign the Tea Party in and broker a deal. Now, it appears that he’s all in favor of a shutdown as a first resort, offering a promise of at least two years of uncompromising uber conservative, big business, pro-1 percenter fiscal policies.
The strategic shift could show that McConnell is concerned that in such a tight race he might lose the national, far right special interest groups he needs to financially keep him viable. However that could ricochet back on him by drawing off the moderates he needs in order to secure another reelection. McConnell is slightly ahead in the polling, but within the margin of error, and continuing lack of any sort of progress in Congress isn’t doing much to help.
McConnell is presenting his race not just as affecting the state, but the entire leadership in Washington. In that realm, his promise is clear. Giving Republicans control of the Senate means giving them the keys to shut down the government over any bill they choose. If they do not get every demand that they make, they will close it all down, just like they did before.
Just like in 2013, WIC programs will run out of supplies, Headstart programs will close, affecting education and the economic future of low income children and their parents, public employees will have no way to pay their bills, no new loans will be written, social security applications will be delayed and this time.
What are some of the issues the GOP would be likely to shut the government down over? Obviously the debt ceiling, a fight over a balanced budget amendment, and probably a battle over cutting funding to SNAP, welfare, social security and other safety net programs. But you can also expect them to shut the government down if Obamacare isn’t dismantled, causing thousands of newly and affordably insured to lose their coverage and allowing insurance companies to go back to making massive profits on people’s illness and misfortune.
Then, of course, there is the obvious defunding of family planning. What has been occurring state by state would become a federal policy, eliminating federally subsidized birth control at the same time that they have been increasing the ability for businesses to refuse to cover birth control in their own insurance plans. Together, the ability to prevent pregnancy will become further and further out of reach for those living on tight budgets or without regular employment.
These are the promises McConnell is really making when he says that his reelection will result in “reigning in” the administration or forcing it to shut down. And this vow extends to any Republican Senate candidate running in 2014.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
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