Friday, October 25, 2019

The Grim Reaper of the U. S. Senate

Judd Legum (popular.info) reports on prospects for flipping the U. S. Senate. It starts with dumping Moscow Mitch McConnell.

Next year, McConnell is up for reelection. He faces Democratic Amy McGrath — perhaps his toughest ever opponent. McGrath is having early success at fundraising, pulling in $10.7 million in the first three months of her Senate candidacy. But McConnell has been raising money for this race since 2014 and has $9 million in cash, while McGrath has $6.7 million.

Still, it’s clear McGrath will have the resources she needs to mount a vigorous campaign.

McConnell is a powerful force in Washington but an unpopular figure at home in Kentucky. A Morning Consult poll shows he has a 37% approval rating, making him the most unpopular Senator in the country.

A poll conducted by the AARP in July showed a statistical dead heat, with McConnell leading McGrath by one point, 47% to 46%.

A McGrath victory would not only remove McConnell from office but could flip the balance of power in the Senate, ensuring the best chance of success for meaningful climate legislation. Republicans currently hold a three-seat majority, 53–47, with _three Republican incumbents in significant danger_—Martha McSally (AZ), Cory Gardner (CO), and Susan Collins (ME).

Nevertheless, several large corporations that publicly profess a deep commitment to combating climate change are bankrolling McConnell’s campaign. In so doing, they are helping the single biggest obstacle to climate action remain in power.

… fossil fuel companies aren’t the only ones supporting McConnell’s re-election campaign. McConnell is also drawing support from eco-conscious corporations who tell their customers they are committed to addressing climate change.

  • Microsoft has also donated the $10,000 maximum to McConnell’s re-election campaign and $20,000 to the Bluegrass Committee, McConnell’s leadership PAC.
  • Facebook has also donated the $10,000 maximum to McConnell’s reelection campaign and $10,000 to the Bluegrass Committee, McConnell’s leadership PAC.
  • CVS has also donated the $10,000 maximum to McConnell’s reelection campaign and $20,000 to the Bluegrass Committee, McConnell’s leadership PAC.
  • Johnson & Johnson has also donated the $10,000 maximum to McConnell’s reelection campaign and $10,000 to the Bluegrass Committee, McConnell’s leadership PAC.
  • Pfizer has also donated the $10,000 maximum to McConnell’s reelection campaign and $15,000 to the Bluegrass Committee, McConnell’s leadership PAC.

Here’s the thing. All of these corporations claim to be dedicated to combatting climate and yet they donate to McConnell. Why is that a big deal? Legum lists Moscow Mitch’s actions against environmental action.

Trump is indeed making the climate crisis worse. But that doesn’t define how the president has spent his decades-long career. Trump has not dedicated his entire political life to transforming the country’s political system in a way that systematically benefits carbon-intensive industries and ensures effective climate legislation is perpetually gridlocked. Trump simply hasn’t done that. But Mitch McConnell has.

“The real McConnell legacy is two-fold,” said [noted environmentalist Bill McKibben]. “There’s never been the slightest chance of meaningful climate legislation reaching the Senate floor for a vote while he’s held power, and he’s packed the federal judiciary with judges — beginning with the fraudulent holdup of Merrick Garland — that means the chance for the judicial branch dealing with this crisis are slimmer than they should be.”

In addition to taking two of the three branches of government out of the climate fight, McConnell has also given fossil fuel interests disproportionate power over U.S. elections.

When bipartisan attempts at climate legislation have emerged, McConnell has done everything in his power to make sure they fail. In 2009, for example, McConnell engaged in ridiculous delay tactics to prevent the passage of a bipartisan Senate climate bill.

And when a climate bill passes the House, McConnell just doesn’t take it up in the Senate. Indeed, “McConnell has touted his ability to block House-passed legislation, calling himself the ‘Grim Reaper’ for progressive policy ideas,” the Hill reported. Those ideas include recently House-passed legislation to re-enter the Paris agreement.

McConnell is up for reelection in 2020, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. If McConnell wins and maintains his position as Senate Majority Leader, it means there will be no significant legislative action on climate change for the foreseeable future. He will also continue to be a position to pack the courts with judges hostile to regulations on carbon-intensive industries.

The next decade the world’s last chance to stop catastrophic climate change. If McConnell remains in power, the chances of success are vanishingly small.

McConnell fancies himself as a “Grim Reaper” when it comes to progressive environmental policies. Although he would not admit it, he may well be a Grim Reaper for the entire planet.

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