Fact-checker debunks Mitch McConnell’s claim that Republicans merit credit for stronger economy

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently claimed that the American economy suddenly improved when it became clear that Republicans likely would gain control of the U.S. Senate in the midterm elections. PolitiFact.com begs to DISAGREE: McConnell said a recent economic uptick appears to “coincide” with “the expectation of a new Republican Congress.” Even leaving aside the question of causation, key statistics show that the economic recovery was under way well before September, which is our best estimate for when the “expectation” of a GOP Senate solidified. We rate the statement False....

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Will Ted Cruz make Mitch McConnell’s status as Senate majority leader a nightmare?

The photo above is perhaps the perfect characterization of the situation that awaits the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate come next year. Mitch McConnell seems optimistic, but Ted Cruz seems to be raising some prickly issue or another. There’s more on this matter HERE: The Kentucky Republican [McConnell] achieved his lifelong dream on Tuesday night in a massive victory for his party, and is positioned to move into Sen. Harry Reid’s ornate suite in the Capitol when the next Congress convenes on Jan. 3. But it is likely to be a short honeymoon. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the influential tea party firebrand, is poised to make life very difficult for the old-school Kentuckian by harnessing the power of the GOP base’s rightward drift to wage fierce battles with President Barack Obama. Cruz telegraphed his strategy in a post-election interview Tuesday night on Fox News, calling on Republicans to do whatever it takes to repeal Obamacare and and prevent Obama’s upcoming executive actions on immigration. (Snip) “Cruz is gonna be using his national base to put relentless pressure on McConnell,” said Norm Ornstein, a congressional scholar with the American Enterprise Institute. “I’ve never seen a guy so despised by a vast majority of his caucus — they hate Cruz. They see Cruz as completely out for himself. But let’s face it if he’s out there inciting the base, and talk radio guys and blog people … that’s going to be difficult for them,” Ornstein...

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A new political term arises: Vote No, Hope Yes

Republican lawmakers who don’t much like their Tea Party brethren but are afraid of them have unwittingly spawned a term for their craven charades. Joan Walsh EXPLAINS: [T]here’s more to be said about the debacle in the Senate this week, when GOP leaders were forced to vote to move forward with a bill to lift the debt ceiling after saboteur Ted Cruz filibustered it. Having made the world safe for Democrats to do the right thing and vote for the bill, all 43 Republicans then voted against it (two didn’t vote at all). I dislike Cruz as much as the next sensible person, but I actually think we owe him some gratitude, for exposing the charade at the heart of modern Republican politics today: the desire by Republicans, reluctantly abetted by Democrats, to avoid the wrath of Tea Party crazies and pretend they don’t want to do things like lift the debt ceiling, when in fact they know it’s essential. The cowardly strategy apparently even has a name: “Vote No, Hope Yes,” in which Republicans vote against a common sense solution to a stalemate – like the deals to avoid the fiscal cliff last January, or to reopen the government in October – while actually hoping the measures pass by the grace of Democrats. This cynical and dangerous approach to politics actually went to new lows on Wednesday, when McConnell asked to waive the normal procedures of the Senate and let his colleagues vote silently, so no one would know how close Ted Cruz came to winning – and the rest of us came to losing. With financial markets on the verge of panic, Republicans “dropped the parliamentary equivalent of a curtain on the voting as it was in progress,” in the words of Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor. Instead of the normal process of verbal “ayes” and “nays” recorded by the Senate clerk (and C-SPAN), senators could quietly indicate support with no roll-calling or record, just the informal vote-counting of leadership. When the only reliable members of the GOP sanity caucus, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, balked at giving McConnell and others cover for their “Vote No, Hope Yes” dishonesty, the GOP minority leader was forced to scramble to get to 60 votes. That’s when McConnell switched his vote from no to yes, as did top deputy John Cornyn [above], also facing a Tea Party primary battle. Then another 10 Republicans followed suit. And then they all voted against the actual...

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Mitch McConnell says there will be no more shutdowns over Obamacare

THIS isn’t going to sit well with the Tea Party dude who’s mounting a primary challenge to the Mitch Man: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says he will not allow another government shutdown as part of a strategy to repeal ObamaCare. McConnell (Ky.) told The Hill in an interview Thursday afternoon that his party learned a painful political lesson over the past 16 days, as its approval rating dropped while the government was shuttered. He said there’s no reason to go through the political wringer again in January, when the stopgap measure Congress passed late Wednesday is set to expire. “One of my favorite old Kentucky sayings is there’s no education in the second kick of a mule. The first kick of a mule was when we shut the government down in the mid-1990s and the second kick was over the last 16 days,” he said. “There is no education in the second kick of a mule. There will not be a government shutdown. “I think we have fully now acquainted our new members with what a losing strategy that is,” he added....

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Facing a far-right primary challenger, Mitch McConnell can do nothing to avert a government shutdown

THIS GUY‘s highest priority is political self-preservation: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election battle against a credible conservative opponent upends congressional politics in a way that makes it harder to avoid a government shutdown and debt default. In recent years, the Kentucky Republican has had a knack for cutting deals at the last minute to break impasses and avert fiscal crises. This time around — as federal government funding expires Sept. 30 and as the U.S. brushes up against the debt limit in the fall — playing that role could end his career. “I’ve watched McConnell closely and after the fiscal cliff resolution he’s taken on a very different role, including last week sabotaging Susan Collins on the transportation bill. He’s very fearful of a challenger to his renomination,” said Norm Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “And stepping in at the last minute to do a budget deal or save us from breaching the debt limit would be disastrous for him.” Senate Democratic leaders also worry that his re-election dynamics make crisis likelier, especially with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) more powerless than usual, having promised his ultraconservative members he won’t negotiate privately with President Obama. “His lurch to the right and his desperation to portray himself to the Tea Party as the chief opponent of the President absolutely makes it more difficult to get a deal,” said a senior Democratic aide, speaking anonymously to discuss internal matters. “In the past he would swoop in at the end and negotiate, and now we just can’t be sure he will be able to do that.” In the final hours of 2012, McConnell negotiated a resolution to avoid tax hikes as part of the so-called fiscal cliff. At the end of 2011, he negotiated the agreement to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits. And earlier that year the White House relied on him to iron out a deal to avert a catastrophic default with just two days to spare. Conservatives fought against all of those deals, demanding deeper spending cuts and zero tax hikes every step of the way. McConnell wasn’t running for re-election then, but he is now. A McConnell campaign spokesman didn’t return a request for...

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