It's a Simple Question, Mitch

McConnell: What are you talking about, paid for? This is existing tax policy. It’s been in place for ten years. 

[yada, yada, yada . . .]

Gregory: For a final time, I’ll go back to my question which is, the extension of the tax cuts would cost $3.2 trillion. That’s borrowed money, that adds to the deficit. Do you have a plan to pay for that extension?

McConnell: You’re talking about current tax policy. Why did it all of a sudden become something that we, quote, ‘pay for’?

Earlier this month, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said that the push by Congressional Republicans to extend the Bush tax cuts without offsetting the costs elsewhere could end up being "disastrous" for the economy. "I'm very much in favor of tax cuts but not with borrowed money and the problem that we have gotten into in recent years is spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money," he said. "And at the end of the day that proves disastrous. My view is I don't think we can play subtle policy here."

They've already been "disastrous" turning the Clintonian budget surplus into a budget deficit. Over the past decade those tax cuts added $3.8 trillion to the national debt. President Obama's proposals are simple: in 2011 the top two income tax rates — now 33 percent and 35 percent — would revert to the levels before the Bush Administration, 36 percent and 39.6 percent, respectively. But the four lower rates would remain 10 percent, 15 percent, 25 percent and 28 percent. 

Paul Krugman tells us what's at stake.

According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, making all of the Bush tax cuts permanent, as opposed to following the Obama proposal, would cost the federal government $680 billion in revenue over the next 10 years. For the sake of comparison, it took months of hard negotiations to get Congressional approval for a mere $26 billion in desperately needed aid to state and local governments.

And where would this $680 billion go? Nearly all of it would go to the richest 1 percent of Americans, people with incomes of more than $500,000 a year. But that’s the least of it: the policy center’s estimates say that the majority of the tax cuts would go to the richest one-tenth of 1 percent. Take a group of 1,000 randomly selected Americans, and pick the one with the highest income; he’s going to get the majority of that group’s tax break. And the average tax break for those lucky few — the poorest members of the group have annual incomes of more than $2 million, and the average member makes more than $7 million a year — would be $3 million over the course of the next decade.

It's a simple question, Mitch, how will you pay for the Bush tax cuts?


The Regrets of Mitch McConnell

“I am amused with their comments about obstructionism,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in an interview over the weekend with the New York Times. “I wish we had been able to obstruct more. They were able to get the health care bill through. They were able to get the stimulus through. They were able to get the financial reform through. These were all major pieces of legislation, and if I would have had enough votes to stop them, I would have.”

Don't fret Mitch come January you'll have the opportunity to obstruct to your heart's content and to the benefit of the narrow wealthy elite you serve. And let's be frank, obstruct is all you are capable of because a new idea to call your own you have not a single one.

But just for the record let's stroll down memory lane and recall some of Mitch's accomplishments this session. As of July 31st, only 42.8 percent of President Obama’s judicial nominees had been confirmed. No other President in recent memory even comes close to such a dismal number. The next lowest confirmation rate was that of George Herbert Walker Bush who 79.3 percent of his judicial nominees confirmed at 18 month mark of his Presidency.

In the Senate, the GOP has waged a war on any and all Democratic intiatives that makes Sherman's march through Georgia look like a walk in the park. In this Congress, we were treated to Senator Shelby record-setting blanket hold on all executive appointments. At that time Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic wrote that Shelby's move represented "a seminal moment in the evolution of Republican obstructionism." He might have also called it what it really was: hostage taking and extortion. Outside the Senate, those are felonious acts; inside the Senate, it is how the GOP operates.

Worth recalling is the three-page memo that New Hampshire's Judd Gregg penned and circulated to his Republican colleagues, reminding them of various procedural tactics they can utilize to obstruct, delay, and undermine the debate on health care. Sam Stein of the Huffington Post called it "the equivalent of an obstruction manual -- a how-to for holding up health care reform."

The lengths to which the GOP resorted in their aim to derail the President's health care agenda has been extraordinary. Never mind the rhetoric, which was beyond the pale, consider that in December 2009, Republican Senators attempted to block the renewal of all military funding in an effort to halt the passage of the health care reform bill. What can one say when Senators like John McCain and Lindsey Graham are willing to play politics with the welfare of those serving in uniform.

There's more...

Only the Margin is in Doubt

There was never any real doubt that Sonia Sotomayor would be confirmed as the nation's 111th Supreme Court Justice. Only the margin of confirmation was in doubt. How many Republicans would vote to confirm? That question is beginning to get answered late this week after Judge Sotomayor breezed through her confirmation hearings. Late today came word that GOP Senators Dick Lugar of Indiana, Mel Martinez of Florida and Olympia Snowe of Maine would vote to confirm. Not surprising, Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will vote against confirmation. More from the New York Times:

OP Sens. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the Senate's most senior Republican, Mel Martinez of Florida, its lone Hispanic Republican, and Olympia Snowe of Maine all announced they'd vote for Sotomayor, praising her qualifications and her testimony at four days of Judiciary Committee hearings this week.

''I was pleased that Judge Sotomayor repeatedly recognized in her responses this week that 'the job of a judge is to apply the law' rather than independently make policy, and that it is the law, rather than one's own sympathies that 'compels conclusions in cases,' '' Snowe said in a statement.

McConnell planned a speech Monday in which he'll say the 55-year-old appeals court judge's past statements demonstrate an ''alarming lack of respect for the notion of equal justice,'' and question her ability to separate her sympathies and prejudices from her decisions.

McConnell joins other GOP conservatives who are lining up firmly against Sotomayor, including Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, who announced Friday that he'll vote no, citing her position on gun rights and comments he said indicate ''a tendency toward judicial activism.'' But with solid backing from Democrats, who enjoy a lopsided majority, and a growing number of Republicans, there's virtually no doubt the judge will be confirmed as the 111th Supreme Court justice.

Republicans have said they won't try to block or even delay a vote to confirm her, which is expected in early August.

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said Thursday that neither he nor any GOP senator he knows of is interested in holding up the vote. The panel is likely to cast the first votes on Sotomayor's nomination in late July, although Democrats were pushing for a committee vote as soon as Tuesday.

The sooner the better.

There's more...

Skepticism or Obstructionism?

As of right now, Americans are left with more questions than answers about this unprecedented government spending . . .

As the ellipsis suggests that's not the full quote, though it should be. No, the questions that Americans have in their mind according to Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are not about the serious erosion of the nation's fiscal position that has added an unprecedented $5.7 trillion in deficit spending these past eight years, the questions the Senate Minority Leader believes that Americans are harbouring are about Obama's still undefined fiscal stimulus plan believed to be in the neighborhood of $675 billion to $850 billion.

From the Washington Post:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voiced skepticism today about the emerging economic stimulus plan, applying a brake to Democratic plans to quickly pass up to $850 billion in spending and tax cuts soon after President-elect Barack Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration.

"As of right now, Americans are left with more questions than answers about this unprecedented government spending, and I believe the taxpayers deserve to know a lot more about where it will be spent before we consider passing it," McConnell said in a statement, which will be publicly issued later today.

Obama's advisers and congressional Democrats have been huddling in the Capitol trying to craft a massive stimulus plan that could cost anywhere from $675 billion to $850 billion, while some economists are pushing for a total package worth more than $1 trillion.

McConnell -- the most powerful Republican in Washington, based on the filibuster-proof level of 41 GOP Senate seats -- called for many congressional hearings on the stimulus plan and some undetermined safeguards to assure the money is being spent wisely.

Let's call it what it is. It's not skepticism, this is obstructionism.

There's more...


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