When was the last time you heard Senate Republicans float a single legislative idea intended to help the American people? And no, Donald Trump’s border wall doesn’t count because, while it might satisfy his racist base, it won’t do anything to help lift people out of poverty or give a boost to the middle class.
If your mind’s drawing a blank, that’s because Senate Republicans haven’t rallied around a single legislative proposal since they passed the GOP’s tax giveaway to the rich and powerful in December 2017. Ever since then, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his caucus have been taking a powder on advancing any policy proposals, focusing almost exclusively on pushing through Donald Trump’s judicial appointees. When Trump wanted Republicans to become “the party of health care”—which was admittedly laughable—McConnell shot that trial balloon down faster than you can say 2020.
Politically speaking, McConnell was right, and Trump reminded us that he’s as big an idiot as we thought. But it was also an abject admission that Republicans simply aren’t capable of handling the complexities of legislating. Sure, they did just barely manage to get their tax cut through, but it proved to be so awful that it became an electoral millstone around their necks. Gallup’s latest numbers last week showed just 40 percent of voters approve of the law, including an especially weak 32 percent of independents, while overall 49 percent of voters disapprove. Additionally, only 14 percent of voters say their taxes have gone down because of the law.
But instead of going back to the drawing board and coming up with even the hint of an aspirational policy, McConnell is advising his caucus to focus on how scary Democrats’ policies are. Republicans, he says, will serve as “firewall against socialism.” McConnell even suggested that staying focused on that topic will help his caucus downplay Trump’s No. 1 red-meat issue, immigration. And while they’re at it, pay no attention to that Trump-backed lawsuit that could completely upend the healthcare system, strip tens of millions of coverage, and might just detonate in the summer of 2020. The Democrats are socialists!
“Oh, c’mon,” was Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s spontaneous response to a reporter’s question Friday about McConnell’s socialism message. “Why don’t they make it a referendum on some positive suggestion they may have for the good of the American people?” Pelosi continued, citing issues like lowering healthcare costs and increasing paychecks.
Senate Republicans aren’t doing that because they literally have zero policy ideas to fix anything—not a single one—on immigration or climate change or bolstering middle- and working-class Americans. Pelosi knows that, which was her point. McConnell knows it too, and he’s just hoping against hope that an epic round of finger-pointing at everyone but themselves will keep voters from noticing.