McConnell vows to block Democratic proposals after 2020 elections: "Think of me as the Grim Reaper"

It's an ironic turn for a Republican who just weeks earlier complained of “historic obstruction” by Democrats

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published April 24, 2019 6:00AM (EDT)

Mitch McConnell (AP/Salon)
Mitch McConnell (AP/Salon)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to block Democratic proposals like the “Green New Deal” and “Medicare for All” after the 2020 elections.

McConnell told constituents in Owensboro, Kentucky, that none of the proposals would come to pass if he is still in power in 2021.

"We are having a legitimate debate about the virtues of socialism, and I don't want you to think it's just a 28-year-old congresswoman from New York. This is much broader than that. I've got five colleagues in the Senate – five colleagues running for president – who have signed on to the Green New Deal and Medicare For All," McConnell said. "I don't want you to think this is just a couple of nutcases running around on the fringe. This is pervasive policy view on the other side.”

"Are we going to turn this into a socialist country? Don't assume it cannot happen," he added. "If I'm still the majority leader of the Senate, think of me as the 'Grim Reaper.' None of that stuff is going to pass – none of it."

McConnell’s vow to block hypothetical Democratic legislation two years from now is an ironic turn for a Republican who just weeks earlier complained of unfair obstruction by Democrats.

McConnell, who is up for reelection in 2020, accused Democrats of “historic obstruction” in a Politico op-ed for not speeding through President Donald Trump’s nominees.

"This new, across-the-board obstruction is unfair to the president, and more importantly, to the American people," McConnell wrote. "It's mindless, undiscriminating obstruction for the sake of obstruction.”

McConnell, who is among 22 Republicans vying for reelection next year, told reporters earlier this month that he wants to make the 2020 elections a “referendum on socialism,” because he believes it will help the party win over voters, according to The Hill. But public opinion polls suggest Republicans may be overplaying their hand.

Polling on the Green New Deal, which seeks to phase out fossil fuels, provide guaranteed clean energy jobs and a $15 minimum wage with health care benefits and collective bargaining rights, among other things, shows that the idea does not provoke the anti-socialist backlash McConnell and Republicans think.

According to a survey from Data for Progress and Civis Analytics, 46 percent of voters back the Green New Deal, while 34 percent oppose the proposal. Among voters who voted for both Trump and former President Barack Obama, 45 percent support the idea while 39 percent oppose.

The poll found even greater net support on specific policies within the proposal, such as improving drinking water infrastructure, reforestation and job training. Other policies, like requiring all cars to be electric by 2030 and closing every fossil fuel power plant by 2035, had negative net support.

The Medicare for All proposal is even more popular, which is why many of the senators vying for the 2020 Democratic nomination have signed on to Bernie Sanders’ signature proposal.

The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that 56 percent of Americans support the proposal, while 42 percent oppose it. Support for the program increased substantially when people were told the proposal would guarantee health insurance as a right and would eliminate premiums and reduce out-of-pocket costs. Support fell when people were told the program could lead to delays in care and higher taxes.

The numbers show that years of Republican fear mongering about Medicare for All and now the Green New Deal may not be the slam dunk strategy they assume it to be. Fox News learned as much when it hosted Sanders’ town hall earlier this month. Host Bret Baier polled the audience to see who would be willing to switch to Medicare for All from private insurance. The vast majority of hands shot up and the crowd cheered.

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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