Mitch McConnell gets re-elected because you all forget — Do Not Forget!

McConnell depends on you to forget. 

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell has staked his entire political career on a single bet: Voters will forget by the time they vote. 

He never would have lasted in the House of Representatives because elections are held every two years. A six-year term in the Senate provides plenty of time for him to fudge, manipulate and whitewash his record. 

Never has this been more stark than McConnell’s about-face and frantic-public messaging  about the Senate stepping up to meet the demands of the coronavirus crisis.

After the Senate passed a $2.2 trillion emergency relief package on March 26, McConnell tweeted: “I am proud the Senate stepped up.”

And, McConnell has been showing urgency all week.

March 24: “That’s why the Senate is working non-stop on a bipartisan agreement on bold, urgent relief. We can’t afford to waste another moment.” 

March 23: “This is a crisis. Why is only one side acting like it?” 

March 22: “The American people expect us to act. If we fail, it will be because Senate Democrats are continuing to dither while the country expects bold, bipartisan action.”

Tweets on March 20 included:

“This crisis is moving fast. The Senate is here, we are working, and we need to deliver.”

“We’re going to stay until we get this done.”

So much urgency…

The problem with McConnell’s feigned urgency is that the House passed an emergency funding bill on March 14. After days of negotiations between House Democrats and the Trump administration, it passed the bill Saturday morning, just after midnight. 

McConnell, the leader who has been spouting the need for urgency for two weeks, wouldn’t pass the bill in the Senate for four more days. 

Why? 

As I wrote March 18, McConnell had to be back in Louisville for a judge’s investiture, a ceremony for the new judge. McConnell helped get this judge appointed to the Western District of the Kentucky federal bench.

Not only he violate the health guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that warn elderly to not travel, but he adjourned the Senate for the weekend so he could go on this trip. While the country was under attack by global pandemic, and we were seeing signs of the worst economic disaster in our lifetimes begin to unfold, McConnell was attending a party. The country would just have to wait for the Senate to come back. 

McConnell depends on you to forget that.

In an election year, being absent on the job during a health and economic crisis is perilous, even for McConnell in red state Kentucky.

McConnell must know he made a huge mistake. But, McConnell also knows how to help voter’s forget about it. 

That is why, in every message this week, he has been firing off tweets and making Senate floor speeches to change the story — the Senate is acting responsibly and diligently on the coronavirus epidemic. 

And, if his record of reelection is any measure, McConnell will help enough voters to forget about this failure, too, just like he has his entire career.

Remember when McConnell revealed how little he cares about government spending?

In 2019, he was pushing a budget proposal to increase federal spending limits by $320 billion and suspend the federal debt ceiling until after both his and Trump’s elections in 2020. He advised Trump “no politician has ever lost an election for spending more money.”

McConnell can help you forget that he ever said that, or that he had any hand in the debt that has accrued during his 35 years in the Senate.

Remember what McConnell promised to do for your healthcare? 

He promised to tear up Obamacare “root and branch.” That was his campaign promise in every election between 2010 and 2016, when Trump was elected and Republicans controlled the House, Senate and White House. When he failed to pass any healthcare legislation out of the Senate, did he continue to fight for reform? Of course not. 

He just depended on you forgetting about it. 

Remember the economic boom McConnell promised would come from his $1.5 trillion tax cut?

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He told CNN at the time, in October 2017, “There wasn’t a single year of 3% growth during President Obama’s tenure, not one. We ought to be growing about 3% a year, on average, to realize the hopes and dreams of the next generation.” 

He also made the same claim on “Face The Nation” in December 2017. 

Well, Gross Domestic Product growth in Trump’s first three years in office 2.3%, 2.9% and 2.4%, and 2020 sure doesn’t look like it’s going to improve that yearly average. 

Think we’ll hear any more promises of a booming, 3% per year growing economy from McConnell? 

He also promised the $1.5 trillion tax cuts would be revenue-neutral (because of all that economic growth). Well, in 2019, the federal deficit was a mere $984 billion — a 28% increase from the previous year.

But federal spending has been out of control for decades, who will remember it was actually McConnell’s tax reform that was the primary driver of the exploding deficit?

After every mass shooting, McConnell just flips the hourglass and waits for the sands to extinguish the public outcry for gun legislation that would — even when there is overwhelming public support: ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, require universal background checks and so on.

He and other senators with A-ratings from the NRA will just turn to trusted talking points, call for action on mental health funding… and wait until the public forgets. 

The Senate has long recesses in August and over Christmas and the holiday season. It adjourns for a spring break during the Cherry Blossom Festival. No matter when a mass shooting occurs, there is alway a nice long recesses around the corner for McConnell to hide behind. By the time the Senate is back in session, people will have moved on. 

After all, in times of such massive, tragic loss, how could anyone drag the country through a divisive policy debate over the Second Amendment? Now is the time for uniting, remembering loved ones… and forgetting he’s done nothing to help stop the next mass shooting. 

Remember McConnell dragging his feet on support for coal miner’s pension funds? 

McConnell had held up for months legislation that would have protected the pensions of nearly 90,000 retired coal workers — funding that the coal miners’ union had been pleading for for years. 

Suddenly, when several coal mining companies filed for bankruptcy, further imperiling the pension fund, McConnell made a total about-face and became a champion of coal workers.

“I’ve spent my entire career in the Senate fighting for all Kentuckians,” McConnell said in a Senate speech. “I’ve worked to protect coal communities from bad ideas and to promote their future. And I will keep working with the Trump administration and with my colleagues on both sides to support our mining families.”

Remember the about-face? 

McConnell did the same thing to the 9/11 first responders bill. 

Perhaps most telling is McConnell’s turnaround on election security funding? 

Every American intelligence agency reported that Russia attacked the integrity of the 2016 U.S. election. Do you remember when McConnell supported legislation that would fund states’ efforts to enhance their election security?

Not before the 2018 election, in which Republicans were shellacked, losing seats in the Senate and control of the House. In fact, his obstruction of election security legislation in 2017 is partly what earned him the nickname “Moscow Mitch.”

It was in September 2019 — before McConnell’s own election, in 2020 — when he finally protected the integrity of American elections. 

Now he can claim he passed a $250 million election security bill. And who would remember, much less hold him accountable, for waiting until one more round of foreign interference before the Senate “stepped up.”?

Remember how he normalized filibustering to obstruct President Obama’s entire legislative agenda and federally appointed nominees? The constitution does not require a 60 vote threshold to pass legislation in the Senate — that was a new normal created by McConnell. Remember?

And, of course, do you remember how he waged an unprecedented partisan crusade on the courts? 

Sure, you remember how McConnell obstructed Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court — prohibiting Republican senators from even meeting with Garland. But he had good reason: The President shouldn’t get to appoint a Supreme Court Justice in an election year… the voters should decide. 

Remember your civics class? Separation of powers…? That was civics, right? 

Actually, no, McConnell made that rule up. Remember?

And McConnell didn’t just obstruct Garland. He obstructed dozens upon dozens of Obama appointments to lower courts. According to an analysis by the Brookings Institute, over 70 federal seats could have been filled by Obama appointees, but were blocked by McConnell. 

It is difficult to keep track of all the ways in which McConnell has perverted the Senate and the judiciary; or to remember all or the misleading claims and unfulfilled promises he lets slide out of memory; especially when we have more important things to focus on, like addressing this coronavirus, and the financial devastation it is causing families across the country.

In a way, this crisis is a political gift McConnell could only dream about. An opportunity to look productive and bipartisan… like a statesmen. A crisis of such magnitude that nobody will stop and question the last five years of representing corporate donors, PACs and the NRA. It’s year six, and he’s bringing pittance back home to the people who need it most. 

I’m certain there are more examples from his 30 years in the Senate preceding his current term. But I can’t remember them. 

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