This is What GOP Compromise Looks Like

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans are apoplectic with the Biden administration’s plans. They’re spending too much, expanding benefits while increasing the deficit. And now, in Biden’s infrastructure bill, the president wants to drastically increased the corporate tax rate. That would effectively undo the massive tax cuts passed under Donald Trump in 2017.

And that McConnell cannot abide.

Speaking at the University of Louisville Monday morning, McConnell decried Biden’s infrastructure package. “Revisit[ing] the 2017 tax bill” is out of the question, as is the infrastructure bill’s total tab, which totals more than $4 trillion. McConnell said that Senate Republicans would be “open to doing a roughly $600 billion package,” which is well less than half of Biden’s plan.

We’ve been here before. McConnell’s tune sounds a whole lot like Maine Sen. Susan Collins countering the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan with a “bipartisan” bill totaling … $600 billion. The numbers probably aren’t a coincidence. It’s not lack of originality, although you could certainly read it that way. It’s a desire to strip the bill of the sharpest teeth it has. McConnell’s proposal isn’t a compromise. He might as well be asking Biden to eat grilled cheese off the radiator.

Corporate tax revenue is how Biden proposes to offset the spending required over the bill’s first eight years. That leaves Republicans like McConnell caught between a rock and a hard place. They hate both high corporate taxes and government spending. But high corporate taxes offsetting government spending? McConnell probably doesn’t know which direction to be angry in.

Ultimately, McConnell’s anger likely won’t matter. Democrats don’t need him or any Senate Republican to pass this bill. Unless a couple hold out, the bill will likely pass with the same 51-50 tiebreaker that the American Rescue Plan did. And now as then, McConnell won’t hesitate to call this another part of Biden’s socialist and/or communist agenda. It’s a satisfying bit of karma, admittedly. For years McConnell was the Senate’s end all be all, the Democrats’ boogeyman, destroyer of dreams and reasonable policy. Now he’s just a footnote, whinging into the ether and proposing “compromises” that no one will even bother looking at.

Sure, McConnell’s conflation of socialism is dangerous in the long run and might work during the 2022 midterms to help Republicans regain their Senate majority. But so far it seems like people know the difference. At the very least, they see Republicans’ disingenuousness for what it is. Either way, the popularity of major corporate tax cuts and massive infrastructure improvements are worth banking on. McConnell likely knows that too.