The Star News Network’s Neil McCabe Weighs in on Washington’s Spending Snowball

The Star News Network’s Neil McCabe Weighs in on Washington’s Spending Snowball


Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – guest host Ben Cunningham welcomed The Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil McCabe to the newsmaker line to outline the $5 trillion dollar infrastructure spending and the anti-Trump senators who continue their hostility toward Donald Trump.

Cunningham: Gosh, things are going on so quickly in Washington this week, and it’s just depressing if you care about any kind of fiscal responsibility.

Neil McCabe is on the line with us. Neil is the national political correspondent for The Tennessee Star and is the most connected man in Washington, D.C. Neil, tell us, is there any way that this big snowball can be stopped? This $5 trillion spending snowball, or are we doomed to just watch it roll through?

McCabe: First of all, yes, we are doomed to just watch it roll through. But it’s the confluence of a number of events. And I think the critical one for people of our ilk, Ben, is that Mitch McConnell has made the decision that he’s going to stick it to Donald Trump.

And sort of this cattery of anti-Trump Republican senators is going to get together and give Joe Biden a bipartisan win. And it’s just because of the different cultures of the House and the Senate. The Senate has always been culturally hostile to President Trump.

And I’m talking about Senate Republicans, whereas House Republican congressmen are overwhelming, not only do they like Trump, they support Trump, and they feel a kinship with Trump. Whereas Republican senators see him as an interloper, as this stranger from another planet who has just basically messed up all of their plans.

Mike Lee had this great line where he says everybody talks about wouldn’t it be great if Republicans and Democrats could learn to work together again? And Lee always says the problem in Washington is, when Republicans and Democrats work together, it’s to raise spending and to raise taxes.

And that’s exactly what this bill is going to do. And McConnell has now decided that this thing was dead and he’s brought it back and he’s going to do it to stick it to Trump.

Cunningham: They do. They treat Trump and the supporters of Trump like an embarrassment basically. They are just embarrassed, but they will go the distance. And the House Republican leadership is not doing much at this point, are they?

McCabe: What you’re seeing, thanks to the leadership of Jim Banks, who I have (Inaudible talk) Granted it’s in baby steps. But he is returning the Republican Study Committee to its roots. The Republican Study Committee was founded in 1973 as part of that effort to bring some services and back into the Republican Party.

It was that same movement, that same period of time, that created the Heritage Foundation and the Committee for a Free Congress. And the American Conservative Union was all part of that movement. And so the Republican Study Committee has been integrated under Boehner and then under Paul Ryan. And then McCarthy is part of leadership because instead of being the rebels, they became part of the empire structure.

Banks is waging a war against this infrastructure bill. And he’s doing it by actually reading the bill. And he and his people are reading the bill and they’re pulling stuff out of it. And guys in the Senate and conservatives are trying to delay it.

And that just gives people more time to read it. But really, it doesn’t matter what’s in the bill. McConnell wants to stick it to Trump and so do a lot of Republican senators.

Cunningham: That’s pretty depressing that that is the dynamic. How much can they delay it? There are two bills. And I certainly don’t understand it as well as I should because things move so quickly. There’s a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.

And then there’s the $3.5 trillion, which supposedly will pass with reconciliation. There’s so much stuff in that $3.5 trillion. Is the parliamentarian actually going to say yes, all of this stuff is qualified as budget, and we’re going to pass it with reconciliation. Is that going to happen?

McCabe: They’re going to work over the parliamentarian. Basically, that $3.5 trillion bill has been written almost in coordination with the parliamentarian, basically working as the referee. And so everything that Democrats can’t pass on their own is going in the $1.5 billion. So you now have the factor of 10, 15, maybe 20 Republican senators who are moving heaven and earth to give the Democrats everything they can’t get in the reconciliation bill.

And the test vote of that was the filibuster. And the Republicans joined the Democrats to break the filibuster. And so now when that comes to the floor, it’s just a simple majority vote.

Cunningham: That is so depressing. And obviously, Lindsey and Mitch McConnell obviously believe they can do this without incurring any penalty back home.

McCabe: Well, you know, McConnell and Lindsey Graham, they just won reelection. Portman, who’s one of the guys leading the effort, was the budget director under George W. Bush. He loathes Trump and loathes conservatives. He’s retiring.

That’s why J.D. Vance is in that race. And you have Pat Toomey, who was once the darling of the conservative movement. He was president of the Club for Growth, and he’s retiring. So he’s part of it. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, she’s got a tough primary fight.

She’s underwater in some polls that I’ve seen. And so the senators who are on their way out are walking around like zombie senators. And their only goal right now is to set themselves up for their retirement and private life and also set up 20 or 30 of their aides with lobbying jobs as beltway bandits.

And all of those sorts of cookies, treats, donuts, and ornaments are going to be stuck into that bill to help out these senators and their staffers when they return to private life.

Henry: Neil, Grant Henry here with Americans for Prosperity.

McCabe: Hi Grant.

Henry: Pertaining specifically to this $3.5 trillion plan, one would hope that through that bird rule amendment process you could theoretically cut out some of this nonsensical trash. The Pro Act stuff, the Green New Deal stuff, and increased healthcare spending.

But if that doesn’t happen, it will come across as a fairly transparent con in my mind against the American people. It’s exactly what you just said a second ago, Neil. This is just a grab bag, a kitchen sink way to pass all the legislation.

In the last minute we have here, let me ask: if that happens what are the ramifications for the midterm elections? Does it do anything towards that at the last minute here?

McCabe: I think, Grant, you know more than anybody else that this is going to dull the knife of Senate Republicans as they try to retake the chamber. What you’re seeing in House conservatives, they are mounting a serious campaign against this bill, and that’s going to drive up their chances of retaking the lower chamber. Of course, Kevin McCarthy is nowhere to be seen.

Cunningham: Neil, we are coming up on a break. Can you stay over with us?

McCabe: Sure.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.















Star News Network’s Washington Correspondent Neil McCabe Talks Infrastructure Bill and Whispering Joe

Star News Network’s Washington Correspondent Neil McCabe Talks Infrastructure Bill and Whispering Joe


Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed The Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil McCabe to the newsmakers line to weigh in on the probability of an infrastructure bill passing in the Senate and the cognitive decline of “Whispering Joe.”

Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line right now by the very best Washington correspondent in the country. Our correspondent for the Star News Network, and The Tennessee Star, Neil McCabe. Good morning, Neil.

McCabe: Hey, good morning, Michael. Very good to be with you.

Leahy: Neil. Infrastructure gonna happen? Gonna not happen? Who’s up, who’s down? What’s going on in Washington? Because it looks like it’s kind of crazy there.

McCabe: The reconciliation law or rule says that once every fiscal year, a bill can get through the Senate that is privileged from the filibuster. So with a flat 51 simple majority, you can get one bill through a year.

That’s the only legislation that is privileged from the filibuster rule that requires 60 votes in order to force a voter and debate. And this is because that’s supposed to be used for the budget.

But reconciliation has been used in the past. It was used to pass the 2017 tax bill lifetimes in a fiscal year no budget gets passed because there aren’t even 51 votes to get a budget through.

And that’s when we have these continuing resolutions. And so what the Democrats are going to do is they were going to take their whole Christmas tree list, and they’re basically going to take the whole Green New Deal and infrastructure and minimum wage and everything and put it into the reconciliation bill, calling it the budget for the fiscal year 2022.

And the Senate parliamentarian said, actually, no, you can’t do all of that. You can’t put minimum wage in the budget. And so that’s why the Democrats were forced to cut a deal with the Republicans.

And that’s why it’s Senate Republicans who are doing it because it’s the Senate where the action is. You need 10 Republicans to join the 50 Democrats to override and get past the filibuster.

And so Democrats went to the Republicans and said, what can we agree on of the stuff that we can’t do by ourselves? Anything that the parliamentarian will allow to go to reconciliation the Democrats don’t need the Republicans.

So, in effect, what these 10 Republicans have done, is they’ve said, okay, everything that you can get through reconciliation, we’re going to give you. And then the final twist of this is that the Republicans were pretending that if we give them this, they won’t use reconciliation for everything else.

And of course, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and President Biden were saying, well, that’s ridiculous. We’re going to get it all. And then these Republicans were saying, I thought if we gave you all of these trees, you wouldn’t get the other trees.

And that’s why Lindsey Graham was saying, hey, I’m for bipartisanship, but I’m not for a suicide mission. But then you get guys like Portman from Ohio who’s saying, hey, let’s give it to them all anyway.

And guys like Romney who say, hey let’s give it to them anyway. And that’s basically where we’re at. If they get 10 Republicans, they can get it through the filibuster. If they get nine Republicans, then it fails.

Leahy: Are they going to get 10?

McCabe: No.

Carmichael: Nothing of any true substance will pass when we get around to the fall it’ll be a continuing resolution?

McCabe: They will pass the reconciliation bill and they will cram as much into it as the Senate parliamentarian will allow. But it won’t have all of the Christmas ornaments, like $15 minimum wage, statehood for Puerto Rico, Green New Deal, and stuff like that are just not going to be a part of it. And then Republicans just have to take their lumps.

Carmichael: What about a large tax? Will there be a large tax increase that 50 Democrats will sign on to?

McCabe: You can increase some taxes. But in the past, the parliamentarian has said that you can’t disguise a tax bill as reconciliation, which is what happened with the 2017 bill, which is why the 2017 bill was, relatively speaking, revenue-neutral.

President Trump proclaimed the largest tax cut in history, but that’s a function of inflation. It was somewhere around the eighth or 10th largest tax cut in history. It was really just reshuffling the lawn chairs.

Carmichael: So let me try to be more specific. Will raising the capital gains tax to ordinary income, will that pass?

McCabe: They can get something through.

Carmichael: I’m asking, well, 50 Democrats sign on to a large increase in the capital gains tax?

McCabe: Yes. But it all depends on how the Congressional Budget Office scores the actual proposal. And then the parliamentarian has to decide if that is too big. The parliamentarians in the past said you cannot make you cannot make extreme changes in the tax bill and disguise it or cloak it with the budget reconciliation process.

You can trim these rates. You could raise these rates, but will they change the deductibility of state and local taxes? No, that’s dead in the water. Will they change the estate tax or the death tax? Probably not.

That’s probably dead in the water. Capital gains? There’s not a big constituency for what capital gains should be higher or lower. I mean, there is Wall Street. But most Americans don’t really get upset. They don’t march in the streets over capital gains.

Carmichael: I was just trying to figure out whether or not all 50 Democrats I’m not even talking about reconciliation, I’m just talking about Republicans will not vote to increase the capital gains tax to 40 percent.

No Republican will do that. And I would be personally very surprised if all 50 Democrats would agree to do that, setting aside the question of reconciliation and just whether or not they could. Because that is a massive increase in the capital gains tax.

McCabe: There’s no problem there. There’s no anti-tax Senate Democrat that is not going join Schumer on this. Right now their slim majority is such that they’re exhibiting tremendous party discipline, and no one is going to cross Chuck Schumer.

Leahy: Last question for you. What is the buzz in Washington, D.C. about the declining cognitive skills of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Joe Biden.

McCabe: Well, the commander chief was whispering again and that’s got people really scratching their heads because he’s acting like he’s starting to act like a weirdo. And and I think you should also consider the screw-ups going on in the New York Democratic Mayor primary with the 135 bogus ballots that were put through.

That is actually having a material effect on people thinking in Washington and across the country. It’s validating things that President Trump has been saying about the way the 2020 election was handled.

Leahy: Yeah, I think we’re going to have to come up with a new nickname for the current occupant. Whispering Joe. What do you think? (Laughter) Neil McCabe, the greatest Washington correspondent of any news network out there. Thanks so much for joining us today.

McCabe: Alright, be good guys.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.