Democrats demand recess budget talks

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By SUSAN FERRECHIO 8/18/15 3:33 PM

Senate Democrats on Tuesday demanded immediate negotiations with Senate Republicans on spending legislation for the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

“With the existence of a clear and urgent deadline for action, we believe it would be unwise to wait until after the Congress returns from the August state work period, just 23 days before the end of the federal fiscal year, to begin talks on a path forward,” Democrats said in the letter.

The GOP leadership office did not respond to a request for a comment on the Democratic letter. But Republicans have so far resisted efforts by Democrats to hold talks on government funding, arguing that Democrats blocked spending legislation from moving forward in the Senate earlier this year.

Senate Democrats refused to advance any fiscal 2016 spending bills, saying they objected to caps required under the 2011 Budget Control Act. Democrats want Republicans to agree to higher domestic spending levels, and are angry that the GOP has found a way around the spending caps for the Defense Department.

Many Republicans in both the House and Senate are also opposed to the caps, which would have made it almost impossible to pass every spending bill even without Democratic opposition.

The House and Senate will not return to work until after Labor Day, leaving just a handful of legislative work days to come up with a spending plan for the government beyond the end of the fiscal year.

Due to disagreements over spending levels, Congress has increasingly waited until nearly the end of the fiscal year or beyond to come to an accord that satisfies both parties and President Obama.

It won’t be easy this year.

Obama and Democrats have called for an increase in taxes to pay for higher spending levels. Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the plan “a nonstarter.”

The letter, signed by all 46 Senate Democrats and Independents, is below:

The Honorable Mitch McConnell

Majority Leader

U.S. Senate

S-230 The Capitol

Washington, DC 20150

Dear Leader McConnell:

There are less than two months left in the fiscal year, and we are deeply concerned by the fact that negotiations to craft a bipartisan budget agreement have not yet begun. With the end of the fiscal year looming, we urge you to immediately schedule bipartisan budget negotiations so that we can work together over the coming weeks to avoid another manufactured crisis.

Inaction and failure to responsibly restore sequester-level cuts in FY16 appropriations bills will have real consequences for our country. That is why we are eager to start working as soon as possible to negotiate a compromise that will keep our nation and economy strong, and keep the government open.

With the existence of a clear and urgent deadline for action, we believe it would be unwise to wait until after the Congress returns from the August state work period – just 23 days before the end of the federal fiscal year – to begin talks on a path forward. We cannot afford to wait, only to let delay and inaction bring us to the brink of another totally predictable and completely preventable crisis.

We are ready and willing to work with you to produce a fair and balanced Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. Therefore, we respectfully request you schedule the first round of these important negotiations as soon as possible.


Harry Reid

Richard J. Durbin

Charles E. Schumer

Patty Murray

Barbara Mikulski

Patrick J. Leahy

Dianne Feinstein

Barbara Boxer

Ron Wyden

Jack Reed

Bill Nelson

Tom Carper

Debbie Stabenow

Maria Cantwell

Robert Menendez

Ben Cardin

Bernie Sanders

Sherrod Brown

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

Claire McCaskill

Amy Klobuchar

Sheldon Whitehouse

Jon Tester

Tom Udall

Jeanne Shaheen

Mark R. Warner

Jeff Merkley

Michael Bennet

Kirsten Gillibrand

Al Franken

Joe Manchin

Christopher Coons

Richard Blumenthal

Brian Schatz

Tammy Baldwin

Joe Donnelly

Chris Murphy

Mazie K. Hirono

Martin Heinrich

Tim Kaine

Angus King

Elizabeth Warren

Heidi Heitkamp

Edward J. Markey

Cory Booker

Gary Peters

Democrats Panic in Response to Donald Trump’s Immigration Plan



The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is panicking in response to billionaire and 2016 GOP frontrunner Donald Trump’s immigration reform plan, which is designed to get Americans back to work instead of putting foreigners and special interests ahead of Americans as so many politicians do.

The DNC was so freaked out at Trump’s plan, they rushed out a statement from Pablo Manriquez—their “Director of Hispanic Media”—filled with grammatical errors. The statement, which is nothing more than typical Democratic Party talking points in favor of illegal aliens, accidentally doesn’t capitalize “Trump” in one instance and does the same thing when talking about “Democrats.”

“Trump has reignited the GOP’s longstanding obsession with mass deportation,” Manriquez said. “Like his fellow GOP candidates Jeb Bush, Scott Walker,

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)


and others, GOP front runner trump [sic] dismisses a full and equal pathway to citizenship for hardworking immigrants. The GOP should quit treating these families as second class citizens and join democrats [sic] who support immigrant families and want to keep them together.”

Trump’s immigration plan is something that used to be bipartisan. Even Senate Democratic leader

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) 2%

, back in the early 1990s, supported the major tenets of the plan—putting American workers first when it comes to immigration. Now the entire Democratic Party and most of the Republican Party has abandoned American workers in favor of special interests seeking cheap foreign labor and political interests seeking a different and more liberal voting base.

There are a handful of leaders left in Congress still fighting for Americans when it comes to immigration, though, and chief among them is

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) 80%

—the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest. Trump consulted Sessions while writing his immigration policy plan.

McConnell Prepares for the Make-Believe Spending Bill Fight



The hill reported that Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, a stand-in for Harry Reid, is preparing for a tough battle over the budget negotiations in the fall.

“He wants to keep the government open, avoid a federal default and avoid alienating his conservative base, which wants big concessions connected to legislation funding the government and raising the debt ceiling,” the hill wrote.

Lots of luck with that last one.

The battle is actually over. The only thing that is not over is the wringing of hands and the tough talk meant to fool the masses. If the only tool McConnell has – defunding the government agencies – is off the table, then he has no leverage. Obama loves nothing better than an enemy with no leverage.

Government funding expires on Sept. 30 and that’s when the shenanigans will begin.

Democrats, led by hack Chuck Schumer, demand more spending on entitlements to buy votes and they want it offset with tax increases and taxes masquerading as fees or investments.

A senior Democratic aide said those offsets will get rid of the budget caps – the ones destroying our military. What they want are more taxes on international corporations to keep them from going overseas. They will fine them if they do. It’s not hard to foresee corporations leaving the U.S. if this comes to pass. At least it’s not hard to see unless you’re a Democrat.

“Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and guardian of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, says requiring companies to repatriate foreign profits — instead of giving them the option of doing so voluntarily — counts as a tax hike,” the hill reported.

This next note by the hill is particularly interesting, McConnell does not think there’s enough money from overseas corporate tax reform to pay for both a reduction in rates and a highway bill. He suspects Schumer and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who is exploring options with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, will be tempted to double count the proceeds. 

Yikes! Both Schumer and Ryan want to double count?

Democrats claim they will use the money for the highway system. This is what we need! More federal control over our highways with the biggest ATM ever!

They will allegedly put the money in one of their lockboxes, but, amazingly, they have no clue as to whether or not it will cover expenses.

Mitch on a unicorn

McConnell wants to keep tax talks out of the discussion of spending and the highway bill and he wants both of those issues considered separately from each other. For that, he scores points.

Tax reform that leaves out small businesses that file as individual taxpayers is not something McConnell is crazy about. Score another point for McConnell if he’s telling the truth.

The only way defense spending will go up is if non-defense spending goes up with it.

In all likelihood the mandatory spending cuts will remain in place and our military will continue to deteriorate until we have a fleet and an Air Force the size of George Washington’s. Channeling Lafayette!

At least they don’t want to add to the deficit but entitlement reform would be nice.

Democrats will insist on a clean debt-limit increase and McConnell will likely eventually agree to it, knowing they have the upper hand, according to the hill. That’s true because we have no leverage. Clean bill, here we come!

Maybe the battle Mitch will have is actually with the Republicans and not the Democrats. What do you think? Do Republicans have no choice? The Founding Fathers did put the option of defunding the government into the Constitution for a reason.


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Americans demanding congressional leaders slash all federal money for Planned Parenthood

“Let me say it again,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned Tuesday. “No more government shutdowns.”

Government money expires Oct. 1, the start of the federal fiscal year. The House and Senate haven’t sent any annual spending bills to the White House for President Obama to sign. That means lawmakers must prep an interim spending bill (known as a “Continuing Resolution” or “CR”) to keep the lights on.

Here’s the catch, and why the next two months’ negotiations may not be as simple as McConnell makes it sound.

Pro-life lawmakers are apoplectic about covert videos purportedly showing Planned Parenthood officials callously discussing harvesting fetal tissue from aborted fetuses. Dozens of conservatives are demanding congressional leaders slash all federal money for Planned Parenthood in an emergency spending package. The Senate failed to secure a supermajority Monday just to debate a standalone bill to strip Planned Parenthood of federal dollars.

More on this…

  • Sen. Paul continues fight to defund Planned Parenthood

“At some point we’ll negotiate the way forward,” McConnell predicted of an autumn spending accord.

But the Pandora’s Box has been opened. And Democrats are more than happy to preach of the ills associated with it — namely, that the “defund” push could jam up any government spending bill.

“The move is theirs,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., of Republicans. “There is no such thing as a clean CR for Republicans.”

Despite Reid’s supposition, it’s not a certainty that Republicans would affix a rider to a makeshift spending measure. It’s politically risky for Republicans to choose that course. Such a maneuver would prompt the GOP base and Tea Party affiliates to chirp that McConnell and Boehner again hung them out to dry.

During Boehner’s speakership, the Ohio Republican has repeatedly shown a willingness to assemble a minimal group of GOPers — coupled with a large contingent of Democrats — to approve “must-pass” measures and avert political crises.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is expecting a CR. She knows this drill all too well — especially when her office phone rings and you-know-who is on the line.

“If they don’t have the Republican votes to pass it, then hopefully we can have some influence over what is in that CR,” Pelosi said.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, engineered one potential solution. Collins’ idea would address the Planned Parenthood issue without hooking it to the spending bill and opening Pandora’s Box. She authored an amendment which simply strips dollars from the specific six Planned Parenthood clinics involved in the fetal tissue harvesting scandal, pending an investigation.

“I want to take a more measured approach,” said Collins about her amendment compared with the across-the-board Planned Parenthood cuts backed by many GOPers. “It’s a blunt approach which penalizes clinics which have done nothing wrong.”

But Collins never got to offer her amendment. Monday night’s vote just to consider the defund Planned Parenthood bill required 60 votes. It only scored 53 yeas. You can’t offer an amendment to a bill which doesn’t even make it to the floor.

Back to Pandora’s Box.

“I would hope that my colleagues would think back to 2013,” noted Collins of the last set of political gymnastics.

The calendar is not a friend to lawmakers now. Both bodies of Congress don’t meet for legislative business again until Sept. 8. By that point, Congress will approach the final days of the two-month window to consider President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. The House and Senate are aiming to disapprove of the pact. Citing the gravity of the issue, McConnell wants all 100 senators to speak on the floor about the matter. He wants fellow senators to “remain in their seats and listen.” He also intends to suspend all committee hearings during this crucial time.

This could eat up days.

Lawmakers will break in mid-September for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Couple that with a visit to the Capitol in September by Pope Francis, and you can see why this is trouble.

Here’s the real challenge: Most Senate bills face two procedural hurdles of 60 votes. The first deposits the bill on the floor for debate. The second ends debate and allows the measure to advance to final passage. Senate rules require large chunks of time before those votes “ripen” for a roll call. Senators could also require time tranches stretching as long as 30 hours following each vote.

Now, envision a scenario where the GOP brass elects not to include a rider to defund Planned Parenthood. Remember, it takes 60 yeas just to get the bill on the floor and 60 again to finish debate. McConnell could lift a page from Boehner’s playbook and request Democratic help to avoid a shutdown. Republicans currently hold 54 Senate seats. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., was the only true GOP defector on the procedural Planned Parenthood Monday. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., were the only Democrats who sided with Republicans on that same roll call. McConnell could need 16 Republicans (including Kirk) to vote with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown. Usually it’s Republicans trying to scrape together a few Democrats.

Better enjoy what’s left of August. September is going to be quite a month. And Pandora’s Box may already be open, with its infirmities flying about Capitol Hill.

Capitol Attitude is a weekly column written by members of the Fox News Capitol Hill team. Their articles take you inside the halls of Congress, and cover the spectrum of policy issues being introduced, debated and voted on there.

It’s Time To Crush Planned Parenthood

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Stacy Washington
Host, Stacy on the Right

The defense of Planned Parenthood by the media and politicians is disheartening and disgusting. New videos released last week by the Center for Medical Progress prove that doctors and executives working for Planned Parenthood have committed gruesome crimes that makeDr. Gosnell’s clinic of horrors look tame. Planned Parenthood Federation CEO Cecile Richards has vehemently denied any charges of profiting over the sale of ‘fetal tissue’ a sanitized way of describing aborted baby body parts, yet the videos show clear evidence otherwise.

In the very first video by CMP, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Director of Medical Services Dr. Nucatola states between gulps of wine and mouthfuls of salad:

“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”

This appears to be crushing evidence of a callous indifference for human life and the constraints of federal laws banning late term abortion on the part of PPFA’s leadership.

CMP footage of clinic directors haggling over prices, jokingly discussing luxury vehicle purchases from the resulting profits and gruesome images of bloody pie dishes, disprove critics who suggest the videos were heavily edited. Technicians are trained to sort through the body parts in the pie dishes with tweezers, separating and locating the valuable bits to secure them for sale to Stem Partners.

In anticipation of a video showing three top executives from Stem Partners at lunch discussing procuring babies born alive and killed for sale of their organs, the company secured an injunction preventing release of the footage. No matter, discussion of “intact remains” is included in other footage already released to the public.

Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood of Colorado features prominently in the fourth video; as a technician sorts through fetal remains in a petri dish, their V.P and Medical Director negotiates the sale of baby body parts. In an unrelated development Alliance Defending Freedom filed a complaint against Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood after learning of a 13-year-old girl brought in for an abortion by her rapist/sexual predator. Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood performed the abortion but didn’t report the abuse. Criminal.

Then there’s the spending; $548 million dollars of taxpayer funds are sent to Planned Parenthood on a yearly basis. Another $612 million dollars earmarked for “reproductive health services” go to USAID for abortions abroad.

Senator Harry Reid, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest and a host of politicians have begun trotting out the “you wish to destroy women’s health services” defense. Are they unaware that the Affordable Care Act provides for each and every service that Planned Parenthood does and all of the others that they do not?

Lest we forget, Planned Parenthood does not perform mammograms. They do perform cursory breast exams, which they call screenings, which most women perform on themselves on a monthly basis. STD testing, pap smears, prescriptions for birth control, can all be obtained from an actual doctor of obstetrics and gynecology through Medicaid, a plan through the ACA or at a free clinic of which there are over 9,000 operating in the U. S.

Planned Parenthood has begun circulating information to rally their supporters, some of whom are reeling with disgust from the latest allegations. They claim that they see 2.7 million patients a year, and defunding them would leave a gaping hole in the reproductive health care system. Of course there is an alternative that is more numerous than Planned Parenthood and comes without all of the intendant human body part trafficking baggage: Community Health Centers.

According to Planned Parenthood’s own website (accessed 7/19/205 before the so called “hacking”) they currently operate 666 facilities, some states having only one facility. In stark contrast there are 9,069 federally funded Community Health Centers operating in all 50 states.

Although the abortion giant has taken to whining about defunding efforts; don’t be fooled, they are a formidable enemy. Planned Parenthood has assets in excess of $1.4 billion and excess revenue of $124 million. The $528 million in taxpayer dollars amounts to roughly one third of their income. Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards makes well over $500,000 dollars a year. Planned Parenthood is a funnel for taxpayer dollars to Democrats. In 2014, the abortion giant spent 15 million on Democratic candidates, which is why not one of the Democrats in the Senate or House is willing to join an effort to defund.

The affordable care act permits individual state exchanges to award grants to Planned Parenthood, prompting the Washington, DC exchange to award Planned Parenthood $375,000 dollars of taxpayer funds, kind of like a kickoff gift to celebrate the passage and implementation of the ACA.

Americans have had enough of the excuses and whitewashing of what is clearly an organized crime syndicate hell-bent on selling human baby parts for cash. Instead of crushing unborn babies for their parts as Dr. Nucatola so disgustingly described, we should crush Planned Parenthood out of existence, by defunding it and prosecuting its executives for their criminal behavior.

Read more:

Politics: GOP House member files resolution to remove Boehner as Speaker

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The start of something?

This is a first. No member of the House of Representatives has ever filed a resolution to remove the Speaker of the House. The resolution is going nowhere, you understand, because the proscibed process puts it in front of a committe that’s packed with Boehner loyalists who will simply bury it and most likely not even offer a response.

Does that mean it’s a waste-of-time stunt that has no chance of making any impact whatsoever? Depends. That’s what leadership loyalist types will certainly say. And without more House members willing to get on board, file similar resolutions or throw their support behind this one, they’re surely right. But there’s a strong case to be made for Boehner’s removal, and a movement to make it happen could indeed go somewhere if more Republicans follow the leader of Mark Meadows:

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., filed the resolution — a “motion to vacate the chair” — late Tuesday, claiming that he “has endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decision-making, bypassing the majority of the 435 Members of Congress and the people they represent.”

The proposal was referred to a committee stocked with leadership loyalists, and therefore unlikely to emerge.

The motion says that Boehner has caused the power of Congress to atrophy, “thereby making Congress subservient to the Executive and Judicial branches, diminishing the voice of the American People.”

The motion also claims that Boehner has used the power of his office to “punish Members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the Speaker.”

Last month, the leadership briefly stripped Meadows of his subcommittee chairmanship over his votes but later relented after conservatives objected.

The resolution could place House Democrats in a difficult, and unusual, position. Democrats would face a dilemma of either voting to help preserve Boehner – with whom they have frequently clashed – or backing House conservatives and gambling on pandemonium by helping to throw Boehner out.

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Here’s the thing: Boehner is not going to actually be removed through a process like this. There will always be enough House members willing to protect him if he wants to stay on. But if opposition to him becomes large enough and vocal enough, he might have no choice but to voluntarily step down in recognition of the fact that he simply doesn’t have the support of his caucus anymore.

But there are problems with that. One is that no credible challenge has really been made when his opponents have had the chance at the start of any congressional session. Granted, there was some limited drama earlier this year about whether Boehner could get majority support on the first vote, but I think it was largely for show. There were never enough Republicans willing to throw the speakership into question, despite the misgivings many of them had about Boehner. If you really want the guy out, someone who represents a credible alternative needs to step up, and Boehner’s opponents need to join in getting behind that person. So far that hasn’t happened.

Also, a serious movement to oust Boehner isn’t going to gain steam behind the way he punishes members by stripping them of committee assignments or whatever. The public doesn’t care about that. But the public could and should care about Boehner’s endless capitulation to Obama and Harry Reid on matters like regular-order budgeting and Obama’s continued flouting of the law with no real consequence from Congress. That’s one of the items addressed in the story above. Boehner has been so weak in his assertion of the power of the legislative branch, he’s virtually neutered it as any sort of check against the power of the executive branch. That’s a serious dereliction of duty.

And it all comes down to fear. There’s a lot Boehner could do to tie Obama’s hands when he thumbs his nose at the law and at the constitutional limits on his power, but he knows he can’t do those things without experiencing a media onslaught and claims that he waants to “shut down the government.” All of which is nonsense, of course. The only reason a government shutdown ever comes into play is that Obama threatens to take his ball and go home whenever he doesn’t get what he wants, and the media figures that because Republicans know Obama will do that, they’re the ones shutting down the government if they don’t keep the king happy.

It’s mind-blowingly absurd, but it works because we don’t have a Speaker who knows how to fight the battle – or even wants to. Mark Meadows isn’t going to get Boehner removed via this resolution alone, but if he uses the attention he gets by doing this to publicly make the case that the House needs a real leader, and why, he just might set a dynamic in motion that would put Boehner in a position where he has to step aside.

Then, of course, we’d need a majority of House Republicans getting behind someone who not only is willing to really fight – but actually knows how to do so. You tell me: Who is that guy?

McConnell’s vision of ‘governing’ drags GOP astray

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The Export-Import Bank is in liquidation. A majority of Republican Senators want to keep it that way — the chairman of the Banking Committee included. Every serious and semi-serious GOP presidential candidate agrees. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., agrees.

So why did McConnell use a heavy parliamentary hand to give President Obama his demand — that a bill restarting the export-subsidy agency be inserted into an unrelated highway bill?

For conservative hill staffers and activists, McConnell’s actions are just one more sell-out — one more time the majority leader has stuck it to conservatives and cut a deal with the enemy. McConnell’s maneuvers triggered a fire-spitting speech last Friday from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in which he blamed the leader for running a Senate that only listens to “the Washington cartel — the lobbyists on K Street, the big money and big corporations.”

Cruz’s speech triggered a barrage of spite towards McConnell, and revived complaints that McConnell’s main goal is to stick it to conservatives. While this demonology of McConnell satisfies and motivates the Tea Party, it misses a simpler — and thus likely better — way to understand McConnell.

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The key word, if you’re trying to understand McConnell’s conduct as majority leader is “governing.”

McConnell wants to prove that the Republican Party can govern. He believes, and wants to demonstrate, that Congressional dysfunction hasn’t been the fault of Congress as a whole, but the fault of Democrats — specifically, his predecessor as majority leader, Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Next fall, when Hillary Clinton and her proxies in the media point to government shutdowns to argue that Republicans aren’t mature enough be left in charge, McConnell wants to point to two legislative years full of accomplishments. Already, he boasts of passing a budget (something Harry Reid basically never did), an update of No Child Left Behind, Trade Promotion Authority and a permanent “doc fix.”

This week, McConnell is trying to add a long-term highway bill to that list of accomplishments. The White House, Senate Democrats, and some Boeing-state Republicans have told McConnell they’ll sink the highway bill if Ex-Im isn’t tacked on. McConnell wants a highway bill to pass more than he wants Ex-Im to stay dead, so he cleared a path for Ex-Im — even though it required Reid-like tactics of blocking other amendments.

Governing, in McConnell’s mind, also includes consensus building and fair play. So while filling the amendment tree on highways to protect Ex-Im isn’t quite fair play, the alternative would be blocking a vote on Ex-Im, although nearly two thirds of Senators want to revive the subsidy agency.

Finally, parties that can govern actually meet deadlines instead of repeatedly passing short-term patches. That’s why he prioritized a permanent doc fix, and that’s why he has been loath to pass the House’s short-term highway bill.

From a simply political perspective, there are reasons to question McConnell’s strategy. The electorate complains about dysfunctional Congress, but are they really going to reward a Congress that passes small-fry bills that most regular people will never hear about?

Then there’s the policy strategy: Can you possibly set the stage for an agenda of shrinking government by passing a bunch of bills that mostly increase government — restarting an expired subsidy agency, increasing Medicare spending and increasing federal spending and revenue through a highway bill?

Compromise is part of governing, McConnell will say when assailed by Tea Party critics, and conservatives need to be ready to give some in order to get some. But not everyone seems to be giving and getting equally in McConnell’s Senate.

Trade, Ex-Im, highway spending — these all happen to be the priorities of U.S. Chamber of Commerce and K Street lobbyists. When The Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed by two former Senate majority leaders praising McConnell for getting the Senate “functioning properly” it was noteworthy that the authors, Trent Lott and Bob Dole, are both K Street lobbyists.

One shouldn’t tag McConnell as an agent of K Street. It’s just that if a Republican sets out to be compromise-minded, to pass bills with bipartisan appeal, and to avoid ruffling feathers when possible, he’s apt to end up advancing the sort of big-business-big-government policies that corporate lobbyists want.

Cruz is right when he says Washington is a cartel enriching the insiders, but he goes overboard when he attacks McConnell’s motives as cronyist. It’s not a matter of a corrupt leader. It’s a matter of a corrupt system. K Street simply provides the path of least resistance for a leader trying to “get things done.”

And because McConnell is an old-breed Republican, he may not see the alternative that sits before him: dismantling the structure of special favors that Reid, Obama and Republicans of old have built for the insiders.

Put another way: You can build bipartisanship with Dan Coats and Mark Warner, or you can build bipartisanship with Ron Wyden and Pat Toomey. There’s bipartisan support for handouts, but there’s also bipartisan support for ending handouts.

If McConnell wants to run the Senate so as to earn the voting public’s trust, he needs to show that he doesn’t let K Street call the shots.

Step one would be standing with his party’s majority and its presidential field, and keeping the Export-Import Bank good and dead.