What curious times we live in. Here we have Bernie Sanders, the wacky old socialist Senator from Vermont emerging as the champion of manufacturing; and Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate minority leader from Kentucky emerging as American manufacturing's worst enemy.
The issue is a bill being pushed by the Democrats that, among other things, will give tax breaks to companies that bring manufacturing back to this country from faraway places, and punish those companies that move jobs offshore. It also directs the Obama administration to demand that the WTO take action concerning China's blatant currency manipulation.
McConnell's take: "This bill … will do nothing to create jobs here in our country. Most of the factories the Durbin bill is trying to prevent from moving overseas are not traveling overseas to sell back to the American market, but are moving there to gain competitive advantage over foreign companies in foreign markets … And in doing so, they create more jobs and more opportunity right here in the United States."
Now that statement is utterly incredible, as if McConnell is wholly unaware of the explosion of the trade deficit, the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs, and the devastation wreaked on thousands of towns with now empty factories that once represented the lifeblood off the community. Sanders, on the other hand, has a firm grasp of reality when he says, "During the Bush administration alone…we lost more than 4.5 million manufacturing jobs, nearly 30% of the total."
Regardless of what you think of the bill – and there are certainly pro's and con's – I am curious as to what you think causes a guy like McConnell to make such an absurd statement, because I am at a complete loss to understand it. I can think of a couple of possible explanations:
The Hack Politician Theory McConnell doesn't care what the facts are. All he knows is that if the Democrats are for something, he is against it. Period. The facts are not something that will stand in the way of politics. The personal power resulting from taking control of the Senate means more to him than any principles.
He's been bought and paid for theory Neither facts nor principles matter. McConnell owes his job to the steady stream of cash he gets from his number one source of support – the financial sector. Wall Street thrives on the short term gains to be had from closing factories and moving them to China. In the long term it is a loser, but Wall Street is adept at finding chairs when the music stops, so they tell Mitch what to think and what to say, and he dutifully complies with the bidding of his owners and masters.
The just plain ignorant theory McConnell has never held a legitimate job in his life. Law school straight to government, and Senator from Kentucky since the Reagan administration. His reality is the 20 mile diameter circle in which Washington, DC sits, and he is unlikely to be able to find Kentucky on a map. If American reality was ever known to him, thirty years in Washington has rendered it but a distant memory. A routine trip to Walmart would demonstrate to McConnell how incredibly ignorant his statement is, but I don't suppose McConnell has seen the inside of a Walmart in his life.
Perhaps there are other explanations, and I would be interested in hearing them. I really would like to know. In the meantime, the world has indeed turned upside down when Bernie Sanders is more in touch with middle America and the realities of our economy than the leading Republicans. It probably doesn't matter why, however, as schmucks like McConnell are the reason tea parties are cropping up left and right and he is destined to sooner rather than later end up in the bone yard of political dinosaurs.
But one thing is clear, and that is that I can no longer vote a straight Republican ticket knowing that Republicans are pro-business and Democrats are pro-labor. I actually have to start paying attention to who these people are, and a 're-elect nobody' philosophy makes more and more sense all the time.