An Open Letter to Mitch McConnell

Dear Senator McConnell,

You’re in a tough situation.  Even though you are the minority leader of the Senate, you have far less power than the moderate Republicans to influence policy.  Moreover, the Republican track record on economics and foreign policy over the past eight years was dismal.  Your party caters to its some of its most intolerant members, notably Rush Limbaugh.   And your party somehow believes that being hyper partisan is a plan for the future.

Truth in advertising:  I don’t want to solve your problems.   But I do want to see an honest debate in Congress, and I don’t mind if Republicans have some limited influence to scale back overly enthusiastic Democrats.  So, I’ll share one idea with you.

My suggestion is for you to create two levels of Republican “support” for legislation.   The upper level of support is when the Democrats and the Republicans genuinely compromise on a bill that meets both sides half way (or close enough to half way.)  In this case, many Republican Senators can vote with the Democrats.

The second level is a partial compromise.  Perhaps the Democrats meet you ¼ of the way rather than close to half way.  It’s better than nothing, but not enough for Republicans to support the bill.  (Think “stimulus package.”)  In this case, you and other Republicans can guarantee enough votes to permit cloture (and no filibuster), but not guarantee any votes from Republicans for the bill.

By permitting this two-level approach, you will regain some level of power since you can negotiate for the low level support.   Moreover, the legislation will have a broader input from Republicans, and the debate will be more robust.

By the way, you better do this fast.  In two years, you may no longer have any options at all.

Regards, Jim Orlin



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