Mitch McConnell Has Met The Enemy, and It Is Him

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Politico has a fascinating story today. It’s all about Mitch McConnell’s months of LBJ-worthy maneuvering to get legislation passed that would repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood, thus paving the way for a clean budget bill later this year. But here’s the kicker: he wasn’t engaged in Herculean negotiations with Democrats. He was engaged in Herculean negotiations with his own party. The goal was to somehow trick them into supporting the Obamacare/PP bill, which was entirely symbolic since President Obama would veto it instantly, paving the way for a budget bill later this month that Obama could sign.

How did he do it?

McConnell marshaled a secret weapon that ultimately would work in his favor: Anti-abortion groups.

Since the summer, the Senate majority leader had spoken with influential organizations opposing abortion such as National Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List to ensure they would back his move to link the Obamacare repeal with a measure to defund Planned Parenthood….Anti-abortion groups vowed to score against any senator who rejected the anti-Planned Parenthood provision, exerting additional pressure on conservative lawmakers who would have seen their sterling pro-life ratings tarnished if the defunding language was dropped.

Apparently McConnell persuaded the anti-abortion folks that their cause was better served by electing a Republican president in 2016, and the best way to do that was to avoid a protracted government shutdown over a budget bill that Democrats would fight if it included the PP defunding language. Instead, he proposed a symbolic standalone bill that allows everyone to vote against Obamacare and Planned Parenthood. Obama will veto it; everyone will shrug and say “we tried”; and then a clean budget bill will be negotiated and signed.

This is a strategy that firebrand conservatives opposed, but apparently they aren’t willing to risk their 100 percent scores from anti-abortion groups. So they caved.

And that’s that. In today’s Washington, passing bills isn’t a matter of getting Republicans and Democrats to agree. They can usually manage that. The trick is somehow neutering the wingnut faction of the Republican Party. Once that’s done, negotiations between the two parties are (relatively speaking) a piece of cake. Welcome to 2015.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate