Mitch’s Message

“What I’ll put on the floor is a half a trillion dollars – that’s a lot of money – half-a-trillion dollar program to target the actual needs that the country has,” Mitch McConnell said, addressing questions about stalled virus relief talks after voting in Kentucky on Thursday. “I’m not anticipating that [Democrats] are going to support it.”

He’s right, they won’t support it. And he’d be forgiven for wondering why the media continues to dedicate so much coverage to competing soundbites from Steve Mnuchin and Nancy Pelosi, who are still ostensibly negotiating to bridge the gap between Donald Trump’s offer (which apparently stands at somewhere close to $1.9 trillion now) and Democrats’ $2.2 trillion stimulus package.

Of course, it’s not as simple as the headline numbers. The “devil and the angels” (as Pelosi put it recently) are in the details. But those details don’t matter either as long as McConnell isn’t prepared to consider whatever compromise The White House and Democrats manage to reach.

All day Thursday, markets were subjected to headlines from Trump and Mnuchin. “When I speak to Pelosi today, I’m going to tell her that we’re not going to let the testing issue stand in the way,” Mnuchin told CNBC. “We’ll fundamentally agree with their testing language subject to some minor issues. This issue is being overblown.”

Later, Trump said he’s “absolutely” willing to come up more on his offer. “I would. Absolutely I would. I would say more. I would go higher. Go big or go home, I said it yesterday,” the president remarked, while speaking to Fox Business.

He sure did say it yesterday. And he said it the day before yesterday, too. But McConnell wasn’t listening either time. Or, actually, Mitch surely was listening, it’s just that he no longer cares. In fact, I’d argue McConnell now views Trump as a liability and may have left him for dead (politically speaking, of course).

Read more: Waterloo And ‘The People’

Trump also complained about Mnuchin. Steve “hasn’t come home with the bacon,” the president seethed, before accusing Pelosi of “asking for all sorts of goodies.”

It’s difficult to find the right words to express how ridiculous all of this really is, but fortunately, I don’t have to. Because McConnell made things crystal clear.

“We’re in discussions with the Treasury secretary and the speaker about a higher amount. That’s not what I’m going to put on the floor,” he said, flatly, during the same exchange in Kentucky on Thursday.

Asked specifically if it’s possible that the Senate would consider a proposal in the neighborhood of the $1.8 trillion to $2.2 trillion range being bandied about by Mnuchin and Pelosi, McConnell said “I don’t think so.”

“That’s where the administration’s willing to go [but] my members think what we laid out, a half a trillion dollars, highly targeted, is the best way to go,” Mitch added.

“My” members. Standard lingo, sure. But there’s a message in there for Trump if the president can close his mouth long enough to hear it.


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10 thoughts on “Mitch’s Message

    1. That appears to be the goal. In 2010, his single most important goal was not the nation or the economy, but making Obama a one term President. Now, it looks like he sees Biden as a winner, and wants to tank the economy in order to improve Republican prospects in 2022 and 2024. If Biden wins, but Republicans keep control of the Senate, he will still be able to block meaningful fiscal stimulus. Even if the Democrats win the Senate, there are a few conservatives who might vote to keep fiscal spending low. Remember how Lieberman ended up with a loud voice in healthcare reform. Manchin might have similar power in a Democratic Senate in 2021. This is a real risk for the economy and the markets.

  1. Meanwhile, the Center on Poverty at Columbia is reporting eight million more Americans in poverty now since May 2020. I put that into the numerator and calculation with population into my Python interpreter. It tells me that that’s ~2.4% of the nation’s population…add that to the Census official rate pre-COVID of about 10.5%. Another way of looking at it is that the poverty rate has gone up about 20% in the last five months. (aghast-emoji)

    The scale and toll of this catastrophe since March is almost beyond comprehension. We were abandoned by our government and elites.

    Could anything else be done to further hasten the decline of our nation? Oh, yeah, there is one thing, the political blunder of austerity during a depression. Something else, then, please.

    1. Like tax cuts have brought us a utopian dream? I am asking if tax cuts started during Reagan years causing permanent fixation by GOP on tax cuts to the exclusion of any societal obligations led us inexorably to Crazy Uncle Donald?

  2. Now that I’ve had a glass of schadenfreude, I’d like to share a Steve Martin-esque “Jerk”-like theory: What if McConnell’s refusal to budge off his $660 billion number is his way of screwing Trump and saying to history, “See, I did my part [in securing Trump’s defeat].”….Nah.

  3. I would love to read a mental health professional’s assessment on what drives a “Moscow Mitch”. He’s very wealthy so doesn’t “need the job”. He’s very divisive so could never rise above his present position. More people despise him than are even willing to say “he’s OK” even in his own state. Is the wielding of a little bit of power that much fun?

    1. It is good that Mitch is wealthy, especially since his wife is about to join the unemployed ranks that are so badly needing a helping hand. But I guess the GOP-driven tax breaks that their man put through will more than balance the scales to folks like Mitch and Elaine.

    2. I read an interview with Alec MacGillis who literally wrote the book on McConnell. The gist is he takes positions to get elected and stay elected and abandoning them just as quickly as they are useless to him is shameless about it. Its all about not losing the election, going back to multiple high school races.

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