Dana Milbank’s column today highlights a quote from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that drives me and a whole lot of other folks crazy. It’s the notion that the Republican Party speaks for the American people and that GOP priorities are their priorities.
“The push and pull Americans saw in Washington these past few weeks was not gridlock,” [McConnell] maintained. “It was the will of the people working itself out and a political system that was never meant to be pretty.”
While McConnell is right that what we witnessed over the past few weeks in the debt-ceiling fight wasn’t pretty, he’s dead wrong to say what happened — a deal that reflects the Republican spending-cuts-only approach at the outset — “was the will of the people working itself out.”
The people wanted a more balanced approach to a deal to raise the debt ceiling. According to a Gallup poll from last month, 69 percent of those surveyed wanted the federal government to reduce the deficit “mostly with spending cuts,” “equally with spending cuts and tax increases” or “mostly with tax increases.”
The people wanted compromise in putting together a deal to raise the debt ceiling. According to a poll from the Pew Research Center released last week, “Fully 68% say that lawmakers who share their views on this issue should compromise, even it means striking a deal they disagree with.” Pew reported that 81 percent of Democrats, 69 percent of independents and even 53 percent of Republicans favored compromise.
In the grand scheme of things, the will of the people didn’t “work itself out,” as McConnell insists. It got stomped.