As I laid out yesterday, Mitch McConnell’s victory lap made it clear he plans to set up ObamaCare — the individual mandate — as a key campaign issue for 2016.
There were another few details from that speech that were very telling.
First, McConnell said he would roll out tax reform — that is, very large tax cuts for corporations. That’s clearly payback for the Chamber of Commerce, which had a very critical role in the GOP’s success, according to this great article from the WaPo.
American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce played aggressively in primaries to boost the candidates they believed could win general elections — including Thom Tillis in North Carolina and Dan Sullivan in Alaska.
For much of the primary, Cochran was sleepy and might have been defeated outright were it not for a late push from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which aired a pro-Cochran testimonial from football legend Brett Favre on his farm in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Despite his corporate pedigree, Perdue was one of the few Republicans running without the backing of the U.S. Chamber. In late 2013, the Chamber’s Rob Engstrom scheduled an endorsement interview with Perdue in Atlanta at 8 a.m. Perdue arrived at 8:35 and did not apologize for being late, according to three people familiar with the exchange. Sitting with his arms folded, Perdue told Engstrom, “I don’t give a damn about the U.S. Chamber.” Perdue put his finger on the table and said, “You’re either going to endorse me right here, right now, or you’re wasting my time.”
Seven minutes in, the meeting was over.
It was Republican former Senate leader Robert J. Dole, 91, who first sensed trouble for Roberts. Amid a tour of Kansas, Dole in May called Scott Reed, his 1996 presidential campaign manager and now an adviser at the U.S. Chamber, with a warning. “There wasn’t the enthusiasm I expected for Pat,” Dole said.
Of course, that’s going to leave a hole in the budget. Eliminating the medical device tax — another tweak McConnell promised to make to ObamaCare — will create another hole in the budget.
McConnell revealed part of how he was going to fill it with his response to a question about the Democrats’ filibuster reform. He noted that the Senate doesn’t need 60 to get things done for some issues. He noted they can use reconciliation and push stuff through with just 51 votes.
The GOP has spent 4 years complaining that the Democrats pushed ObamaCare through using reconciliation. But it took just 15 hours after winning the majority for McConnell to make clear that he plans to push through aggressive ideological legislation using the same tool.
Still, all the cutting in the world isn’t going to make up for steep drops in corporate tax cuts. Which means — as always happens when Republicans are in charge — we should expect the deficit to start growing again.