Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


For McConnell, ‘democracy is hard’ only for a Democratic president

The Senate majority leader supports President Trump’s effort to change the payroll tax by presidential edict.

REUTERS/Tom Brenner
According to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, democracy is no longer hard — if you have a president of your own party in the White House.
Of course, this kind of hypocrisy among politicians is hardly surprising, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be noted when it occurs.

In 2014, when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was busy blocking legislation that President Barack Obama sought on immigration, Obama explored whether he could use executive authority to accomplish some of what he favored in the stalled bill.

Article continues after advertisement

Commented McConnell (the 2014 version when a Democrat was president):

Look, as the president has said, democracy is hard…. Imposing his will unilaterally may seem tempting. It may serve him politically in the short term. But he knows it will make an already broken system even more broken.

Now President Donald Trump is frustrated that he can’t get the Democratically controlled House to agree to some things he favors, like a cut in payroll taxes that might possibly boost his re-election chances.

Trump is entitled to want that. He is entitled to seek it. But the payroll tax system is an actual law on the books. The way to change that is to get Congress to pass a bill that the president can sign — which is, you know, how laws get made or changed in our system.

But Trump, who knows less about the U.S. system of government than a smart eighth-grader, wants what he wants and he wants it now. He wants a payroll tax cut, so he is threatening to change the law through presidential edict, which is not how we learned it in junior high.

Article continues after advertisement

Is McConnell the guy who can explain to Trump that democracy is hard, and that presidents seeking powers beyond the Constitution to make or change laws without congressional action “will only make an already broken system even more broken”?

Nah, of course not. According to McConnell, democracy is no longer hard; if you have a president of your own party in the White House, but Democrats in control of the U.S. House who won’t agree to everything the president wants to do to boost his flagging re-election chances, that changes everything, or as McConnell put it somewhat more verbosely:

Struggling Americans need action now. Since Democrats have sabotaged backroom talks with absurd demands that would not help working people, I support President Trump exploring his options to get unemployment benefits and other relief to the people who need them the most.

Before the jobless benefits expired, Senate Republicans tried several times to extend them while talks continued. But Leader Schumer declared that nobody could get help unless all of Democrats’ demands were met.

Then the President’s team worked hard to bridge differences on many of the policies that would rapidly help American families — money to safely re-open schools, money for testing, more direct payments for households, another round of the PPP, legal protections, and more. But Democrats have continued to block all of it while holding out for non-COVID-related liberal demands like a huge tax cut for rich people in blue states and a massive slush fund for state and local governments that is many times the size of the actual coronavirus shortfall they are projected to face.

Weeks ago, some predicted that Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and Minority Leader [Chuck] Schumer might actually prefer if the American people received no further bipartisan aid before the election. Sadly, they have done nothing to suggest otherwise.

I am glad that President Trump is proving that while Democrats use laid-off workers as political pawns, Republicans will actually look out for them.

Translation: Republicans good. Democrats bad. When Republicans block things, it’s because they care about you. When Democrats do the same, it’s because they hate America.

If all of this “democracy is hard” stuff makes you want to spend three minutes watching the adorable old “Schoolhouse Rock” cartoon explanation of how, under our system, a law is supposed to be made, you can refresh your memory by watching the “I’m Just a Bill” via this link.