Mitch’s chop shop by @BloggersRUs

Mitch's chop shop

by Tom Sullivan

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in an interview with Bloomberg News this week all but tied on a mask and pulled out a gun:

After instituting a $1.5 trillion tax cut and signing off on a $675 billion budget for the Department of Defense, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the only way to lower the record-high federal deficit would be to cut entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

"It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem," McConnell said of the deficit, which grew 17 percent to $779 billion in fiscal year 2018. McConnell explained to Bloomberg that "it’s a bipartisan problem: Unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future." The deficit has increased 77 percent since McConnell became majority leader in 2015.

McConnell and company want to dismantle America's most popular safety-net programs. No matter that promises have been made and money withheld from Americans' paychecks for decades to support them. Looting the treasury and selling off America for parts is the GOP's program and what its well-heeled patrons demand. McConnell just doesn't want to do it when he has the power to. Bipartisanship is a good thing when it comes to spreading around the blame. He'll drive up the deficit and moan about the deficit to improve the optics of slashing the safety net. He'll lead Republicans to the cliff, but won't let them jump and take the blame alone for what their party alone wants to do.

As Jordan Weissmann recalls:

With Trump in power, Republicans came within a hair’s breadth of gutting Medicaid under the guise of Obamacare repeal, but were foiled by John McCain’s thumbs down. Other than that, they’ve been happy to pass tax cuts, increase defense spending, and push forward some reductions to food stamps, which would have a negligible budget impact while cutting off aid to needy Americans. Any even-handed observer would have to look at all this and conclude that Republicans mostly see the deficit as a political club with which they can opportunistically beat Democrats, rather than an actual existential concern.
Democrats have long embraced health care as the number one issue voters care about. Republican candidates at long last have discovered that too. So in between scare-mongering about murderous immigrant women and children from south of the border, they are shoe-horning in a message about preserving medical coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Eric Levitz writes in New York magazine:

This was always going to be a tricky gambit for the GOP. Simply put, it’s hard to convince people that they can only trust you to protect their entitlement benefits, when you’re also arguing that taxes must never be raised; military spending must never be cut; and the budget deficit is a threat to our grandchildren.
Levitz lists four false premises behind the GOP targeting of the most popular programs in the republic. The one that I want to highlight a moment is 3) America cannot significantly reduce its military spending:
But popular support for America’s current levels of military spending is much weaker than for the maintenance of entitlement benefits at their current levels. And our nation’s military budget is far more aberrantly expensive (relative to other countries’) than our safety-net programs for the elderly are. No budget “math” dictates that the Pentagon’s funding cannot be cut, but that aid to seniors can be. It is an ideological assumption, and objective news outlets should not allow politicians to present it as anything else.
Nine hundred or more military bases scattered among the world’s nearly 200 countries outside the United States is just what the founders intended, one supposes. The GOP will not touch those. Your Medicare and Social Security are fair game.

And your protection from health care discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions. House Republicans who voted repeatedly, year after year, to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) — more than 50 times, in fact — now want to assure voters they have their backs when it comes to protecting that feature of the popular program they swore to kill. Will Ragland, Center for American Progress’s managing director of communications, tells Mother Jones:

“Republicans seem to have gotten some sort of memo saying they need to stand up for preexisting conditions,” Ragland says. If any had not gotten that message yet, they certainly received it yesterday when President Donald Trump tweeted that Republicans must support protections for preexisting conditions.
Candidate Trump would have added, "Trust me."

McConnell, Trump and the GOP congress are merely tidying up their act before the November elections, hoping to survive them and extend the looting spree. Infrastructure and pieces of America they cannot steal directly from voters' pockets they'll haul to the legislative chop shop and sell off for parts.

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