FLASHBACK: McConnell & Romney’s Allies In Congress Refused To Act On The Economy To Try To Beat The

FLASHBACK: McConnell & Romney’s Allies In Congress Refused To Act On The Economy To Try To Beat The President

Even before President Obama was sworn into office, Senator McConnell made it his top priority to ensure that the President didn’t win re-election, calling it “the single most important thing for Republicans” to achieve. What’s worse is that in order to achieve that objective, he refused to work with the President to strengthen the economy, putting politics above getting Americans back to work. So it’s fitting that he’s speaking on the same night as Congressman Ryan, who met with his fellow Republicans in Congress on the eve of the President’s inauguration to strategize about how to defeat him electorally by obstructing his agenda.

Sen. Mitch McConnell Said “The Single Most Important Thing” For Republicans To Achieve In The Next Congress Was Ensuring President Obama Was A One-Term President. “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell came under sharp attack from the White House and Democrats Tuesday for saying that his top priority in the next Congress is to ensure that President Barack Obama serves only one term. The Kentucky Republican made the statement during an interview with National Journal. But it's a variation on a line he has been using as he has stumped the country on behalf of Republican candidates in advance of the Nov. 2 midterm election. ‘The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,’ he said in the interview.” [Louisville Courier-Journal, 10/26/10]

Ø  McConnell Repeated His Claim “Our Top Political Priority Over The Next Two Years Should Be To Deny President Obama A Second Term In Office.” “An emboldened Sen. Mitch McConnell on Thursday will declare that President Barack Obama must be defeated in 2012 because Republicans ‘can't plan’ on the White House to listen to voters and cooperate on some of his party's top political priorities. ‘Over the past week, some have said it was indelicate of me to suggest that our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term in office,’ the Senate Republican leader will tell the conservative Heritage Foundation, according to excerpts of his speech provided to POLITICO.” [Politico, 11/3/10]

New York Times: Before President Obama Even Took Office, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Devised A Strategy To Deny Democrats Any Republican Support On Major Legislation. “Before the health care fight, before the economic stimulus package, before President Obama even took office, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader, had a strategy for his party: use his extensive knowledge of Senate procedure to slow things down, take advantage of the difficulties Democrats would have in governing and deny Democrats any Republican support on big legislation. Republicans embraced it. Democrats denounced it as rank obstructionism. Either way, it has led the two parties, as much as any other factor, to where they are right now.” [NYT, 3/16/10]

Ø  Using Tactics That Critics Said Left Voters Cynical And The Senate Dysfunctional, McConnell Warned Republicans Against Going Bipartisan. “In the process, Mr. McConnell, 68, a Kentuckian more at home plotting tactics in the cloakroom than writing legislation in a committee room or exhorting crowds on the campaign trail, has come to embody a kind of oppositional politics that critics say has left voters cynical about Washington, the Senate all but dysfunctional and the Republican Party without a positive agenda or message. But in the short run at least, his approach has worked. For more than a year, he pleaded and cajoled to keep his caucus in line. He deployed poll data. He warned against the lure of the short-term attention to be gained by going bipartisan, and linked Republican gains in November to showing voters they could hold the line against big government.” [NYT, 3/16/10]

Ø  McConnell Urged Republicans Not To Make Bipartisan Deals Because “The Reward For Playing Team Ball This Year Was…The Possibility That We Will Have A Bigger Team Next Year.” “As the year went on, Mr. McConnell spent hours listening to the worries and ideas of Republicans, urging them not to be seduced by the attention-grabbing possibilities of cutting a bipartisan deal. ‘I think the reason my members are feeling really good,’ he said, ‘is they believe that the reward for playing team ball this year was the reversal of the political environment and the possibility that we will have a bigger team next year.’” [NYT, 3/16/10]

After Having Planned Obstructionist Partisanship, McConnell Said He Was “Disappointed” In President Obama’s Lack Of Bipartisanship. “A leading congressional Republican did not pull any punches Sunday when asked whether President Obama had kept one of his most prominent campaign promises. ‘I must say I'm disappointed,’ Senate Minority Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. ‘After two months, the president has not governed in the middle as I had hoped he would. But it's not too late. He's only been in office a couple of months. Still before him are the opportunities to deal with us on a truly bipartisan basis,’ the Republican told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.” [CNN, 3/29/09]

McConnell Said Republicans Avoided Associating With President Obama’s Proposals Because “When You Hang The ‘Bipartisan’ Tag On Something, The Perception Is That Differences Have Been Worked Out.” “‘We worked very hard to keep our fingerprints off of these proposals,’ McConnell says. ‘Because we thought—correctly, I think—that the only way the American people would know that a great debate was going on was if the measures were not bipartisan. When you hang the ‘bipartisan’ tag on something, the perception is that differences have been worked out, and there’s a broad agreement that that’s the way forward.’” [The Atlantic, January/February 2011]

McConnell Abdicated Any GOP Responsibility For The Economy

During Debt Ceiling Debate, McConnell Said He “Refused To Help Barack Obama Get Reelected By Marching Republicans Into A Position Where We Have Co-Ownership Of A Bad Economy.” “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), under siege from conservatives over his opt-out proposal for the debt ceiling debate, defended the idea in crassly political terms during an interview on Wednesday morning. The Kentucky Republican, appearing on Laura Ingraham's program, repeatedly pointed to the political toll that congressional Republicans endured during the mid-'90s when they squared off against then-President Bill Clinton over government spending. ‘[W]e knew shutting down the government in 1995 was not going to work for us. It helped Bill Clinton get reelected. I refuse to help Barack Obama get reelected by marching Republicans into a position where we have co-ownership of a bad economy,’ McConnell said.” [Huffington Post, 7/13/11]

Washington Post: While President Obama “Seemed To Speak For Revolted Americans” During Debt Ceiling Debate, McConnell Said The Default Issue “Was A Hostage You Might Take A Chance At Shooting…It’s A Hostage That’s Worth Ransoming.” “After it was all over, Obama seemed to speak for revolted Americans — the kind of people who always want a new Washington — when he described the government as ‘dysfunctional.’ But at the Capitol, behind the four doors and the three receptionists and the police guard, McConnell said he could imagine doing this again. ‘I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting,’ he said. ‘Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming.’” [Washington Post, 8/2/11]

On Obama’s Inauguration Day, Ryan And Other High-Profile Republicans Attended A 4-Hour Dinner Where They Strategized Different Methods Of Regaining Power

1/20/09: On The Eve Of Obama’s Inauguration, Communications Specialist Frank Luntz Arranged A Dinner With Ryan, Other House And Senate Republicans, And A Weekly Standard Journalist. “On such a night, it was a comfort to suffer among friends. Most of them—Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan, Pete Sessions, Jeb Hensarling, Pete Hoekstra, and Dan Lungren—were members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Five served in the Senate: Jim DeMint, Jon Kyl, Tom Coburn, John Ensign, and Bob Corker. The other three invitees were conservative journalist Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard, former House Speaker (and future presidential candidate) Newt Gingrich, and communications specialist Frank Luntz. Most of them had attended the inauguration. … Luntz had organized the dinner—telling the invitees, ‘You’ll have nothing to do that night, and right now we don’t matter anyway, so let’s all be irrelevant together.’” [Robert Draper, Do Not Ask What Good We Do, Electronic Version, p. 2, Published 4/24/12]

The Attendees Discussed “Immediate Tactics” For Challenging Democrats, Including Attacking Then-Treasury Secretary Nominee Tim Geithner And Rep. Charlie Rengel For Failure To Pay Taxes. “Senator Jon Kyl began to focus on immediate tactics. He pointed out that Tim Geithner, Obama’s nominee to be secretary of the Treasury, had failed to pay his Social Security and Medicare taxes during his three-year employment at the International Monetary Fund. Kyl sat on the Senate Finance Committee, which would be conducting Geithner’s confirmation hearings the next morning. … There was a pattern here, Gingrich pointed out. Charlie Rangel, the new House Ways and Means chairman, hadn’t paid taxes on his rental property income in more than two decades. Rangel and Geithner would be wielding more power over how taxpayer dollars would be spent than anyone else in America—and yet these guys couldn’t even be trusted to pay their own taxes? ‘And there’s a web,’ chimed in McCarthy. ‘There are freshmen who accepted campaign money from Rangel. They’re caught in the web.’ McCarthy suggested that they waste no time smacking the new Democrats with attack ads.” [Robert Draper, Do Not Ask What Good We Do, Electronic Version, p. 4, Published 4/24/12]

By The End Of The Dinner The Republicans Had Agreed On A Comprehensive Plan That Targeted Geithner, Reaffirmed Continuing Opposition To Obama, And Attacked “Vulnerable Democrats On The Airwaves.” “They parted company almost giddily. The Republicans had agreed on a way forward:

Go after Geithner. (And indeed Kyl did, the next day: ‘Would you answer my question rather than dancing around it—please?’) Show united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies. (Eight days later, Minority Whip Cantor would hold the House Republicans to a unanimous No against Obama’s economic stimulus plan.) Begin attacking vulnerable Democrats on the airwaves. (The first National Republican Congressional Committee attack ads would run in less than two months.) Win the spear point of the House in 2010. Jab Obama relentlessly in 2011. Win the White House and the Senate in 2012. ‘You will remember this day,’ Newt Gingrich proclaimed to the others as they said goodbye. ‘You’ll remember this as the day the seeds of 2012 were sown.’” [Robert Draper, Do Not Ask What Good We Do, Electronic Version, p. 4, Published 4/24/12]

 Romney’s Campaign Took A Lead Role In Stoking Partisan, Time-Wasting Fights In Congress

With “Buy-In From Mitt Romney’s Campaign” House Republicans Launch An Agenda To “Put President Barack Obama And Democratic Candidates On The Defensive” Including Attack Ads And Robocalls Surrounding Their Votes. “As the spotlight shifts unmistakably from Washington to the campaign trail, House Republicans have planned a series of hot-button votes over the next four weeks to contrast the party’s agenda with that of Democrats and put President Barack Obama and Democratic candidates on the defensive. Very little — if any — of it will become law. The main goal is to boost the party’s prospects on Election Day. The carefully planned effort, detailed by Republicans inside and outside the Capitol, has buy-in from Mitt Romney’s campaign, aides say. Outside political groups, which by law cannot coordinate with lawmakers, intend to pounce on the upcoming votes with advertising, robocalls and mailings. House Republicans will kick off the effort this week with another quixotic attempt to repeal Obama’s health care law. Next week, they will turn to defense, passing the Defense Department’s funding bill while trying to put the Obama administration on record as having no plan to avoid deep cuts to the Pentagon next year.” [Politico, 7/8/12]

Politico: “Romney’s Presidential Campaign Is Very Much In Tune With The GOP’s Plans” To Attack Democrats Through Hot-Button Votes With Romney Senior Advisors Mike Leavitt And Jim Talent In Close Contact With House Republicans.  Politico wrote of an agenda by House Republicans, with buy-in from Romney’s campaign, to put forward a “series of hot-button votes” followed by attack ads, robocalls and mailings from outside political groups in an effort to help the election chances of Republicans: “Romney’s presidential campaign is very much in tune with the GOP’s plans. Mike Leavitt, who is heading Romney’s transition, has been in close contact with House Republicans on planning the health care repeal vote. And ahead of the defense push, former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent, a top Romney adviser, will meet this week with lawmakers from big defense states such as Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Texas, according to sources.” [Politico, 7/8/12]