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“Do You Believe Trump Is Qualified?: The 2016 Question Mitch McConnell Doesn’t Want To Answer

In the new Washington Post/ABC News poll, an almost ridiculous 64% of Americans  – nearly two-thirds of the country – said Donald Trump is not qualified to be president of the United States. That number is unheard of in modern history, and it creates a hurdle the Republican amateur will struggle to clear.

But before Trump can somehow try to convince the American mainstream he’s capable and fully prepared to lead the free world, he’ll first have to persuade the Republicans who are already supporting him.

On ABC’s “This Week” yesterday, host George Stephanopoulos asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in reference to Trump and the poll results, “Do you believe he’s qualified?” The GOP leader responded, “Well, look, I – I think there’s no question that he’s made a number of mistakes over the last few weeks. I think they’re beginning to right the ship. It’s a long time until November.”

It led to a rather striking exchange.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I didn’t hear you say whether you thought he was qualified.

MCCONNELL: Look, I’ll leave that to the American people to decide…. The American people will be able to make that decision in the fall.

In theory, this should be the easiest question in the world for a politician – is your party’s presumptive presidential nominee qualified for the Oval Office – and yet, Mitch McConnell just couldn’t bring himself to lie about this on national television. If the senator said, “No, he isn’t,” then McConnell would have no choice but to withdraw his endorsement. If the Majority Leader said, “Sure, I think he is,” it would have been painfully obvious that McConnell didn’t believe his own rhetoric. So instead, we were treated to an awkward evasion about the most basic of election tests.

Watching McConnell squirm was a reminder that, for all of their various troubles, this is a problem Democrats simply don’t have. Hillary Clinton is running on a lifetime of public service, including experience as a former two-term senator and a former Secretary of State. No one feels the need to ask Dems whether they believe she’s prepared for the job because the answer is so obvious.

Even Bernie Sanders, at one of the more contentious moments in the race for the Democratic nomination, said “of course” Clinton is qualified to be president.

On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), in his first national television interview after breaking his word about his re-election plans, struggled with similar questions from host John Dickerson.

DICKERSON: The presidency on national security issues sometimes comes down to one person by themselves in a room alone, no matter how much advice they have gotten. On those tough decisions, whether it’s about the nuclear codes or about the other kinds of decisions a single president can make, do you think that Donald Trump has better character and judgment in those alone situations than Hillary Clinton?

RUBIO: So, that’s the challenge Donald has over the next two, three months.

DICKERSON: Well, what does Senator Rubio think?

RUBIO: Well, but there’s a campaign. So, that’s what I’m going to watch now.

The senator knows the answer. He knows we know the answer. But partisanship won’t allow for candor.

It’s kind of sad to watch, actually.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 27, 2016

June 28, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Mitch Mc Connell | , , , , | 2 Comments

“He’s Not Paying Close Enough Attention”: McConnell Boasts, ‘There Is No Dysfunction In The Senate Anymore’

Good news, America, the United States Senate, after years of exasperating impairment, is finally a healthy, functioning institution – according to the man whose job it is to lead it.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sat down with Charlie Rose this week and made a boast that was literally unbelievable.

MCCONNELL: We have done a lot more than you think we have. And the reason for that is everybody is angry about their own situation in life. They’re blaming the government which is understandable. But there is no dysfunction in the Senate anymore. And I’ve just given you a whole list…

ROSE: Because Harry Reid is now the minority leader and you are the majority leader.

MCCONNELL: That’s right.

No, it’s not.

Look, I can appreciate why McConnell, who’s arguably done more than anyone in modern history to disrupt how the upper chamber functions, wants the public to see the Senate in a positive light. The state of the institution is obviously a reflection on McConnell’s own leadership, and if voters believe the chamber is governing effectively, perhaps the electorate would be more inclined to leave the Senate in the hands of his Republican majority.

But to declare that Senate dysfunction is a thing of the past is pretty silly.

Consider the judicial confirmation process, for example. McConnell and his GOP brethren have imposed the first-ever blockade on any Supreme Court nominee regardless of merit. Pressed for a defense, the Majority Leader and other Senate Republicans have presented a series of weak talking points burdened by varying degrees of incoherence.

And it’s not just the high court, either: district and appellate court vacancies languish as the GOP majority generally refuses to consider one of its most basic governmental responsibilities.

And it’s not just judges. It took the Senate 11 months to confirm an uncontroversial U.S. Ambassador to Mexico nominee. An uncontroversial Army Secretary nominee faced an unnecessary wait that was nearly as long as part of an unrelated partisan tantrum.

In the meantime, the Senate can’t pass its own bipartisan criminal-justice reform bill, hasn’t passed a budget, is taking its sweet time in addressing the Zika virus threat, still requires supermajorities on practically every vote of any consequence, and is on track to give itself more time off this year than any Senate in six decades.

If McConnell is proud of what the chamber has become, perhaps he’s not paying close enough attention.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 3, 2016

June 3, 2016 Posted by | Mitch Mc Connell, Republicans, Senate Republicans | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Really Dumb Politics”: The Stupidest Thing GOP Leaders Have Done Lately? Threaten To Take Away Middle Class Overtime Pay

Talk about a political tin ear! Wednesday, House Republican Leader Paul Ryan and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell threatened to take away middle class overtime pay.

Speaking as a Progressive Democrat my response is simple: go ahead — make our day. Talk about bad politics.

Here is the backstory. On Wednesday, the administration announced its final rule revising the threshold used to define who is automatically required to be paid time and a half for overtime when they work more than 40 hours per week.

The Wage and Hour Act that was passed in 1938 requires overtime be paid to almost all hourly workers. But there are exceptions for professional, managerial and executive personnel.

To prevent employers from declaring that people who do ordinary jobs are professional, managerial or executive personnel, the law required the Labor Department to set a pay threshold. If a worker makes less than that threshold, he or she cannot be categorized as a professional, manager or executive, no matter what his or her “duties.”

Three decades ago, when the wage threshold was set, 62 percent of all workers made less than that threshold and qualified for automatic overtime, no matter their job classification.

But the threshold has not been materially increased for 30 years. As a result, only 8 percent of all employees now qualify for automatic overtime. And, not surprisingly, many companies have driven a Mack truck right through the “professional, executive and managerial” loophole. As a result many employees, like some who spend most of their days making sandwiches at Subway, are classified as “managers” and required to work 50- or 60-hour weeks with no overtime pay. In fact, they are often put on fixed — if tiny — “salaries” so they get no pay for overtime at all.

The disappearance of overtime protections is precisely one of the rules of the economic game that has been rigged by the CEO class to assure that virtually all of the new income growth in America has gone to the top one percent.

So Wednesday, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Sherrod Brown went to Columbus, Ohio to announce that the threshold would be raised from $23,000 — where it has been stuck for years — to $47,500.

This is a huge victory for the middle class and all ordinary workers, and it is likely to benefit more than 12 million American families. It will once again make certain that workers are actually paid for their overtime.

But to hear the Republicans, this was a gigantic Obama overreach that will stifle job growth and hurt small businesses. This is the same thing they say whenever we increase the minimum wage or take other steps to make certain that ordinary people get to keep a bigger share of economic growth that they themselves create. But Republican predictions of doom never turn out to be true.

Of course the reason it never turns out to be true is that economic growth — and with it, job growth — is actually fueled by putting more money into consumer pockets rather than in the offshore accounts of corporate CEOs.

But putting the economics of the case aside — for the GOP this is really dumb politics. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or political guru to tell you that trying to take away the overtime pay of ordinary voters will not make them happy — no matter how happy it makes the GOP’s corporate givers.

If there is one thing that this election season has made crystal clear: ordinary voters are plenty unhappy about the fact that their incomes have flatlined at the same time CEO salaries and bonuses have soared. It makes no sense to them that per capita Gross Domestic Product has shot up 48 percent over the last 30 years and yet their incomes have stagnated. And they are figuring out who is to blame — the .01 percent that rigged the rules of the economic game so they could keep virtually all of that gain for themselves.

But Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have convinced their rank and file that they are better off being dragged around by their noses by corporate bigwigs who give them money than they are by paying attention to the needs of ordinary voters.

Newsflash: want to know why the GOP rank and file has turned on the GOP elite? It’s because they have time and time again failed to deliver for the white working class men who they have used as cannon fodder in their quest to give more tax breaks for the rich.

So now this brilliant GOP leadership has threatened to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to pass resolutions overturning the new overtime rule — and in effect take away people’s overtime pay. But when they do, President Obama will veto their resolution, and there is no way Democrats will give the GOP the votes to override his veto of this very popular new regulation.

Instead, Democrats plan to have a field day reminding voters that their GOP representative voted to take away their overtime pay.

Sometimes, as the famous organizer Saul Alinski once said: you can count on your enemy. This time, the Republican’s blind allegiance to corporate orthodoxy and rightwing ideology will lead them into a bloody political ambush. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving crew.

 

By: Robert J. Creamer, The Blog, The Huffington Post, May 20, 2016

May 23, 2016 Posted by | Middle Class, Mitch Mc Connell, Overtime Pay, Paul Ryan | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“McConnell’s “Three No’s” Under Fire”: No Meetings, No Hearings, No Vote

I have to admit that Senator McConnell’s ability to keep his troops of Republican Senators in line over these last seven years has been what some might call “impressive.” The plan to totally obstruct anything President Obama and Democrats attempted to do meant that he had to get Senators from traditionally blue/swing states to go along. Time after time we witnessed his ability to do that.

Shortly after the death of Justice Scalia, McConnell announced the ultimate in total obstruction tactics. He issued three “no’s” to any nominee put forward by this President: no meetings, no hearings, no vote. But on this one, he hasn’t managed to make it stick.

A quarter of Republican Senators (16) have announced that they will meet with Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. Last week, three Senators came out in favor of holding hearings: Kirk, Collins and Moran. And now, Senator Kirk has said that he would consider voting for Garland.

Sen. Mark Kirk on Tuesday became the first Republican to say he might be willing to vote for President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

“Obviously I would consider voting for him,” the Illinois senator told reporters before he met with the nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. “That’s the whole purpose.”

While not going as far as Kirk, Senator Collins indicated something similar.

“The President, whether Republicans like him or not, is our President until next January, until Inauguration Day and it just seemed to me that there was no basis for saying that no matter who the President nominates, we were not going to consider that individual.”…

Hearings and meetings “are the best way to thoroughly understand a nominee’s views,” Collins said. “Undoubtably, there will be issues that would arise in a hearing that would provide grounds for people who don’t want to vote for Judge Garland or in those who do.”

Obviously this isn’t enough of a break in McConnell’s troop discipline to get movement on hearings – much less a vote – on Judge Garland’s nomination. But the key figure in all this is Senator Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. As Steve Benen reported yesterday, he is going to extraordinary lengths in his blue/swing state of Iowa to avoid public confrontation over his position. First of all, he is not publicly announcing his speaking engagements and/or meetings with constituents. Secondly, he is only visiting staunchly conservative areas of the state where he received 80-90% of the vote in his last election. Finally, even in those areas, he is facing “tough and repeated questions over his refusal to hold hearings on a nominee to the Supreme Court.”

It is anyone’s guess about whether the “no hearings” and “no vote” portion of McConnell’s plan will hold for the next seven months. But it is clear that the Majority Leader is facing some insurrection from the troops he had previously managed to keep in line.

 

By: Nancy Letourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, March 30, 2016

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Merrick Garland, Mitch Mc Connell, Senate Republicans, U. S. Supreme Court Nominees | , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Gun-Toting, Citizens United–Loving Conservative”: GOP Fights For Hillary Clinton’s Right To Select SCOTUS Nominee

Many have accused Senate Republicans of embracing the nonexistent “Biden rule” and refusing to even hold hearings on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee for purely political purposes. However, on Sunday, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan explained that nothing could be further from the truth.

In a video posted on Twitter, the House speaker earnestly outlined the made-up principle Republicans are fighting to uphold: The American people should get a chance to weigh in on Justice Antonin Scalia’s replacement by selecting a new president (with a mere ten months left in office, President Obama, who was elected twice, doesn’t count).

Simply put: The #SCOTUS nomination is going to have to go to the American people in 2016. https://t.co/AN29xQbfNuhttps://t.co/yWPZzxKKwN

— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) March 20, 2016

Okay, but lets say the GOP Establishment’s various election plots don’t pan out, and Hillary Clinton is elected president in November. Then during the real lame-duck session (not the entire last quarter of Obama’s second term), Senate Republicans would be willing to consider Judge Merrick Garland, the centrist white guy praised by Democrats and Republicans alike, right? Wrong. “That’s not going to happen,” Mitch McConnell told Fox News Sunday. “The principle is the same. Whether it’s before the election or after the election. The principle is the American people are choosing their next president, and their next president should pick this Supreme Court nominee.”

As Chris Wallace confirmed, that means that Senate Republicans would let Clinton make a nomination rather than holding a vote on Judge Garland. “I can’t imagine that a Republican majority in the United States Senate would want to confirm, in a lame-duck session, a nominee opposed by the National Rifle Association, the National Federation of Independent Business that represents small businesses,” said the majority leader, attacking Garland’s judicial philosophy for the first time. “I can’t imagine that a Republican-majority Senate, even if it were assumed to be a minority, would want to confirm a judge that would move the court dramatically to the left.”

Clearly the smart (not to mention noble) move is to cross their fingers and hope that Clinton nominates a gun-toting, abortion-hating, Citizens United–loving conservative.

 

By: Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 21, 2016

March 25, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Mitch Mc Connell, Paul Ryan, Senate Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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