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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appeared on Fox News Special Report w/Bret Baier (08/03/22) to discuss the Inflation Reduction Act currently being negotiated in the U.S. Senate. Senator McConnell said he found the way Democrats characterized the bill “laughable”, because in his opinion, the bill actually increases inflation. Senate Democrats appear poised to approve the measure on a straight party vote.
Senator McConnell said this about the Inflation Reduction Act (0:27): “First, I think all of us were somewhat shocked by Senator Manchin’s reversal of positions he’d taken as recently as last week, against raising taxes. This raises taxes, it increases the burden of taxation on lower income people significantly. Calling it inflation reduction bill is rather laughable. Independent analysis indicates it actually increases inflation in the next two years, and may have an impact over ten years, and their policies from last year have already produced 40-year high inflation, so it’s a terrible package. It appears as if they are all in line, but one, it will be up to Senator Sinema from Arizona, who’s quite independent, to determine what the final contours of the bill are.”
Asked about the charge by irate Republicans, that he was “played” by Democrats regarding the reconciliation bill, McConnell responded (1:28): “Reconciliation is something done by one party only. There’s nothing we could have done to prevent the Democrats from doing a bill that only they will vote for, so it’s not a question of being played here, what’s the story line here is that Senator Manchin had agreed to something that he had said publicly and privately over the last two weeks that he would never agree to. We’re not involved in the reconciliation bill. There won’t be a single Republican vote for it. There’s nothing we could do to deter it, other than to criticize it publicly, and that’s what we’re doing right here.”
Host Bret Baier then cornered Senator McConnell with a very interesting question as to why he has repeatedly cited renowned economists Larry Summers and Jason Furman on ways to tackle the current record inflation, yet now he refuses to follow their advice that the Inflation Reduction Act will help reduce inflation? Senator McConnell accused the economists of trying to appease President Biden. He specifically said (2:41):“The quotes they used me in, were Summers’ observations about what they [Biden Administration] did last year. Two trillion dollars they dumped on the economy, that both Furman and Summers predicted would produce rampant inflation, and it did. What they’ve done this year is kind of fall in line, and I assume they wanted to get back on the White House Christmas card list, but people who are not active Democrats, independent observers have said it has no impact on inflation, at all, over the long term, and actually increases it slightly in the short term. So Furman and Summers were certainly helpful as active Democrats in describing last year’s bill, but this year they’re sort of falling in line because I think they want to get back in the good grace of the White House.”
Asked about criticism from House Republicans, some of whom don’t want him as Senate Majority Leader any more, over what they perceive as him being “played” repeatedly by Democrats, and making President Biden look good, McConnell responded(3:55): “Well, I guess they’ve forgotten the Supreme Court that I’ve helped usher into–three new Supreme Court justices, the 2017 tax bill…I think just because you have closely divided government doesn’t mean you do nothing. The past two administrations tried to achieve bipartisan infrastructure, didn’t get it done, we needed to rescue the post office. Just because it’s a Democrat in the White House, I don’t think means Republicans should do nothing that’s good for the country. In the meantime, on the big issues, we are totally opposed to what this administration is trying to do, but on things like school safety, mental health, infrastructure, postal reform, why would we not want to make progress for the country no matter who’s in the White House?”
Asked about reservation by some Republicans, that expanding NATO to include Sweden and Finland, increases the likelihood of sending our troops into combat in Europe, Sen McConnell responded (5:08): “The NATO alliance is the most successful military alliance in world history. The way to prevent Americans from having to actively get involved in combat is to prevent it in the first place, and that’s what NATO is about. It won the cold war without firing a single shot. Putin has succeeded not only in actually expanding NATO and making it even more effective as a deterrent. Remember Reagan said peace through strength, and that’s what NATO is all about, and that’s why Finland and Sweden add a lot to NATO.”
Asked to pick between the Russia-Ukraine war, and the situation at our southern border, which one was a bigger national security threat to the United States, McConnell said both were threats that needed to be dealt with seriously–probably not the answer Fox News viewers obsessed with the southern border, wanted to hear.
Importantly, when asked about his earlier prediction that there would be a “red wave” in this year’s midterm elections, McConnell appears to have had a change of mind (probably due to Kansas), saying now that it will be a “very tight” election. McConnell specifically said (7:02): “I think it’s going to be very tight, we have a 50-50 Senate now, we have a 50-50 nation, and I think when the Senate race smoke clears, we are likely to have a very, very close Senate still, with either up slightly, or the Democrats up slightly”–a far cry from the “red wave” talk we heard earlier in the year from McConnell and his fellow Republicans.
Asked about the Kansas abortion vote heard around the world, McConnell responded (7:35): “I think what the Supreme Court has done is said people who are elected by the American people are going to deal with this highly sensitive issue, and it will be playing out all year, and I don’t think we really know until the end of the year, what kind of an impact putting this issue back into the hands of those of us who are elected, as opposed to nine unelected judges, will have on the country. We’re in the process of finding that out…It tells us that there are a lot of people interested in the issue in Kansas, there’s no question about that.”
Asked whether he would survive his leadership role if “Trumpified” candidates(J.D. Vance, Oz, Blake Masters, Ted Budd etc) win this November, Sen McConnell responded (8:37): “I’ve been elected eight times without opposition. I don’t own this job, and there’s always an election every two years for leader. If anybody wants to challenge me, have at it.” McConnell added that he will still hang on as Minority Leader if Republicans don’t take over the Senate this Fall.
Asked whether, given his lengthy career in the U.S. Senate, there is a single issue the modern Republican Party gets right, which the old Republican Party got wrong, McConnell was all over the place. He didn’t give an answer that specifically answered the question.
Bottom line folks, the key takeaway from Senator McConnell’s interview on Fox News is that the “red wave” fantasy is gone. Republicans now acknowledge that even with the challenging economic times, and President Biden’s low approval numbers, the 2022 midterm elections will be very competitive. Reasonable politicos will agree that given historical trends re midterms, the fact that Dems are even still in the ball game, tells you all you need to know about the state of affairs at Trump’s GOP.
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