Mitch McConnell

Mutually Assured Obstruction: McConnell’s SCOTUS Gambit Leaves Dems No Choice but To Go Nuclear

Nuclear option

Thanks to the obstructionist tactics of the GOP majority, 210 years of US Senate tradition are about to go “BOOM!”

Not only are Republicans refusing to consider any Obama appointment to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has even refused to commit to confirming a nominee put forth by the next president — you know, should that president be a Democrat. And for all the chatter about what this means for the future of the United States Supreme Court, I’d like to take a moment to consider what this means for the future of the US Senate.

Um… BOOM!!!

If a Republican Senate majority sets a precedent by denying a Democratic president his constitutional authority to appoint a SCOTUS justice, then given a similar opportunity, a Democratic Senate majority must return the favor in kind. The failure to retaliate would only incentivize the Republicans to do this again and again, leaving them exclusive control over the ideological balance of the Supreme Court. So Democrats must vow to reject the nominees of all future Republican presidents.

And I don’t just mean during an election year — I mean ever.

Republicans must be made to understand that if they deny this president his right to appoint a justice to this particular Supreme Court seat, the Republicans will assure that no president with an opposition Senate will ever be able to appoint a justice again.

Sounds pretty dysfunctional, right? So given the current rules (whereby a single spiteful member can pretty much block any bill or motion from coming to a vote), how could such a pathologically partisan Senate ever hope to function again? Of course, it can’t. That’s why, should the Democrats regain control of the Senate this November, the first thing the new majority must do is eliminate the body’s longstanding super-majority rules. In other words, Democrats must choose the “nuclear option” and kill the filibuster.

And should the Republicans retain their majority in the face of a justifiably angry and indignant Democratic opposition, McConnell would have to be an idiot not to do the same.

Assuming the Republicans carry through on their pledge to block any Obama nomination, the filibuster is as good as dead.

Skunk Works Stinker of the Day: US Sen. Mitch McConnell!

Mitch McConnellCongratulations to US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for being chosen our first Skunkworks Stinker of the Day:

Asked about the improving economy, McConnell scoffed: Business leaders tell him they have “a hard time finding people to do the work because they’re doing too good with food stamps, Social Security and all the rest.”

Uh-huh. According to McConnell, what’s really holding back economic growth is that Americans aren’t poor enough. Oh please.

So, let’s take McConnell’s claim in order. The average monthly SNAP (food stamp) benefit in 2014 was only $140 for a single person (about $110 per person for a family of four). Social Security is only paid to people who are old, blind, disabled, or orphaned. And by “all the rest” I can only presume that McConnell is referring to the Professor and Mary Ann. Or something.

I suppose there’s unemployment insurance at an average of $306 a week, but with the benefit normally lasting only 26 weeks, that’s not going to get a family very far. Hell, even the working poor are struggling to get by these days, so I’m not exactly sure how McConnell figures people are “doing too good” to bother to go out and get a job?

So if the business leaders McConnell is talking to are really having “a hard time finding people to do the work,” they might want to consider raising wages. Or is the labor market the only market where supply and demand plays no role?