Breitbart is pissed off. They’re incensed about an interview in the Wall Street Journal that quotes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell praising President Joe Biden and explaining that he did an excellent job on the INVEST in America Act. In particular, the Trump-friendly rag is outraged that McConnell was willing to vote for a $1.2 trillion dollar infrastructure bill after telling President Trump that his infrastructure plans were too expensive.
“Infrastructure is popular with both Republicans and Democrats,” McConnell said.
He argued that a divided 50-50 Senate meant Americans wanted Republicans to work together with Democrats.
“If you’re going to find an area of potential agreement, I can’t think of a better one than infrastructure, which is desperately needed,” McConnell said.
But McConnell was cool to the idea of deficit infrastructure spending when former President Donald Trump proposed it.
In 2016, McConnell specifically panned Trump’s idea of a “trillion-dollar stimulus” on infrastructure, noting that “the issue of how to pay for it needs to be dealt with responsibly.”
Biden’s bill, which McConnell voted for on Tuesday, spent $1.2 trillion.
The difference is partly that McConnell was in control of the Senate when Trump was campaigning and during his presidency. He had the power to say no to investments in America. His calculation is different now.
There are a lot of machinations rolling around in the Kentucky senator’s mind. He’s trying to prevent the Democrats from shredding the legislative filibuster, so he had to find something where he could be reasonable, and infrastructure was as a good an issue as any. He also wants to make centrist Democrats happy in the hope they’ll side with him in limiting how far the Democrats go on other spending sprees. He’s also managing his caucus, since a good number of them wanted the infrastructure bill and weren’t interested in a 100 percent obstruction strategy. He’s also looking at the politics involved, and he wants incumbent Republicans to have an argument that they delivered something for their constituents. Why let Biden take all the credit?
Finally, however, McConnell hated Trump and he likes Biden. This says more about why McConnell stiffed Trump on infrastructure than why he helped Biden, but it shows that personal relationships still matter. One reason that Trump was so ineffective is that he is a colossal dick. Conversely, a major reason why Biden is getting what he wants, as Jennifer Rubin notes, is that unlike Trump he has a deep understanding of the legislative process. He knows who he needs to talk to if he wants to pass a bill. He’s not afraid to make some trades and concessions, or to praise members of the opposition when they lend a hand.
And, as Greg Sargent points out, he’s worked out an excellent strategy where moderates and progressives each play an assigned role. They alternate playing good cop/bad cop, both get what they need, and each gets political cover in the process. You don’t have to call it 11-dimensional chess to recognize it’s a thousand times more sophisticated than anything Trump could conceive.
It must be immensely frustrating for Republicans, and especially for supporters of Trump.