Mitch McConnell, Kentucky's most consistent politician

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

Mitch McConnell might be the most consistent politician in the history of Kentucky, where I've lived all my 67 years. 

He never swerves from his two top priorities: fattening his wallet and political gain. 

The Senate tax bill is a McConnell trifecta: It would boost his bank account, ingratiate him with President Trump and overjoy the Koch sibs and the rest of the GOP's deep-pocket donors.   

Millionaire McConnell lives on Easy Street. Most of us don't. Too many of my fellow Kentuckians are what the Good Book calls "the least among us."   

Oh, McConnell and Trump swear that the tax bill is a boon to ordinary Americans like us. Trump even claims it will cost him money.

Baloney. (I can think of a stronger word that starts with "B.")

"For his part, Mr. Trump has repeatedly asserted with a straight face that the tax bill would hurt him," said a New York Times editorial. "In fact, it will give him and his family a windfall. 

"....You can expect the lies to become even more brazen as Republicans seek to defend this terrible bill. But no amount of prevarication can change the fact that Congress and Mr. Trump are giving a giant gift to their donors and sticking the rest of the country with the tab."

The Times headlined the editorial "A Historic Tax Heist." It is, and the truth hurts. So Trump and McConnell are trashing the truth as "fake news." 

Trump and McConnell lead the league in cynicism. Alec MacGillis titled his book about Kentucky's longest-tenured senator The Cynic: The Political Education of Mitch McConnell, which was published in 2014.

McConnell, according to the author, ultimately concluded "that his own longevity in Washington trumped all — that he would even be willing to feed the public disillusionment with its elected leaders if it would increase his and his party’s odds of success at the polls. In the contest of cynical striving versus earnest service, Mitch McConnell has already won.”

And we workaday Kentuckians have lost, big time.

The screw-the-unions Kentucky GOP has risen with the screw-the-unions McConnell. The governor is another Republican labor-hater; so are Kentucky's junior senator and the state's five GOP House members. Anti-union Republicans command hefty majorities in the state House and Senate.  

Anyway, McConnell's pet bill will have to be reconciled with a measure from the GOP-majority House that also lavishes big tax breaks on plutocrats and short-changes everybody else. (Every Democrat opposed the House and Senate bills.)

McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan, another reactionary union-buster, predict that the differences will be ironed out; and if so, Trump will get his victory. 

Nonetheless, the Kentucky Democratic Party's Mary Nishimuta has blasted out a fund-raising email challenging, "We have the ability to change this trajectory." Republicans would scoff that the KDP executive director is whistling past the graveyard.

"Click here to fight back against Senator Mitch McConnell and the special interests that do not represent Kentucky," Nishimuta wrote. 

She told the truth, too: "In the middle of the night, the Republican majority in the Senate passed a tax bill that fundamentally destroys the American Dream. The wealthiest 1% and large, multinational corporations are rejoicing, while the rest of us see higher healthcare costs and further cuts to fundamental programs coming our way."

McConnell doesn't have to face the voters again until 2020, if he decides to try for a seventh term. Meanwhile, Nishimuta is focused on next year.  

"We are training volunteers to support these brave men and women as they rise to represent us in local, state and federal office. And we’re building a team of dedicated citizens who swear that never again will we cede any race, anywhere."

Doubtless, the Kentucky GOP would laugh off that claim, too.  

Anyway, McConnell and the Republicans think tax "reform" is a winner in next year's elections. Bring it on, say Democrats like Nishimuta.

Skeptics of the bill are many. They include an editorial writer at the Lexington Herald-Leader (a Kentucky purveyor of "fake news" according to the Bluegrass State GOP). 

"If President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress had set out to caricature their own worst instincts, they could not have outdone their proposed tax overhaul," the paper editorialized.  

"It’s a bonanza for their political donors and — how tacky is this? — for Trump and his family. It will balloon the federal deficit, widen economic inequality and give Republicans an excuse to take an ax to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security."

None of that should play in Peoria -- or, close to my old Kentucky home, Paducah.

Anyway, I was taught that it’s not polite to crow “I told you so.” But by word and deed, Trump keeps proving he's what we union folks said he was when we endorsed, volunteered for and voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump is a demagogue, union-despiser, fraud, crook, bigot, lecher, hate-monger and Putin puppet. McConnell is his enabler.