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Senate Democrats insisting on obstructing President Trump’s agenda got a shot across their bow this afternoon from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

“Due to the historic obstruction by Senate Democrats of the president’s nominees, and the goal of passing appropriations bills prior to the end of the fiscal year, the August recess has been canceled. Senators should expect to remain in session in August to pass legislation, including appropriations bills, and to make additional progress on the president’s nominees.”

Democrats have insisted on using every trick in their book to obstruct President Trump’s nominations to cabinet positions, Supreme Court justices and appellate court judges. They haven’t stopped using those tactics because they’ve never paid a price for their obstruction.

This afternoon, that changed. This afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he’s cancelling the Senate’s August recess. That means 10 vulnerable Democrats will lose time to campaign in their home states while their opponents campaign and fundraise.

Sherrod Brown, are you feeling better today than a month ago? While Jim Renacci is campaigning throughout the state during August, you get to slog through appropriation bills and judicial confirmation votes. Trump won Ohio by 400,000+ votes in 2016. I’m pretty certain his voters will turn out, especially after you voted against the Trump/GOP tax cuts. Good luck this November.

Bob Casey, are you feeling better today than a month ago? You, too, voted against the Trump/GOP tax cuts. Now, you won’t have as much time to campaign as you’d anticipated. Good luck in November.

Jon Tester, how’s that long flight back to Montana? You thought you’d have the month of August to campaign. You really needed it after making those baseless accusations about Ronny Jackson. Instead of campaign in August, you’ll be spending your time in DC wading through appropriations bills and confirming Trump’s judicial nominees. Good luck in November.

Mitch is playing this properly. If Democrats want to play hardball, let them lose some Senate seats as a result.

This Bloomberg News article opens by saying “The House and Senate were in session Sunday with a federal government shutdown in its second day amid a spending-bill impasse in Congress.” Apparently, Democrats, including Lindsey Graham, didn’t get the memo. They think the bill that funds government operations, aka an appropriations bill, is the perfect opportunity to codify into law a DACA fix.

Once Vice President Pence returns home from his trip to Israel, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should schedule a vote to change the rules of the Senate that would require only appropriations be allowed in appropriations bills. I know that sounds like a radical concept but people not living in that sphere of insanity known as Washington, DC, would find that rule change sensible. Further, the Senate should require an up-or-down vote on appropriations bills.

One of the primary functions of congress is to fund the government. Political party shouldn’t be allowed to stop that process dead in its tracks. That’s what the Democrats are doing. The Senate rules should let them do their job. Period. It’s time that Democrats learned that elections have consequences.

Finally, Republicans should highlight the fact that Democrats care more about illegal immigrants than they care for vulnerable children or the military. BTW, it’s time to kill the sequestration caps. They’re killing the military in terms of training and readiness.

In his farewell speech to the US Senate, Sen. Franken said that as “I leave the Senate, I have to admit that it feels like we’re losing the war for truth. Maybe it’s already lost. If that’s what happens, then we have lost the ability to have the kinds of arguments that help build consensus.”

Later in that speech, Sen. Franken said “Often, the ‘debate’ here in Washington can sometimes seem arcane and tough to understand. Other times—especially in recent years—it can be so bitter that it doesn’t even feel like we’re trying to resolve anything, just venting our spleens at each other. I get that. I get why people want us to stop arguing and start, well, doing stuff. But since I am leaving the Senate, I thought I would take a big risk and say a few words in favor of arguments.”

What BS. Literally the day after all Democrats in the House and Senate voted against the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, Sen. Franken is attempting to justify the Democrats’ refusal to cooperate with Republicans in cutting people’s taxes. This is a Democrat difficulty. It isn’t just Sen. Franken who has difficulty working with Republicans. So-called moderate Democrats like Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp and Jon Tester made initial ‘friendly noises’ before voting like Elizabeth Warren.

It used to be said that the US Senate was the “greatest deliberative body in the world.” It isn’t that anymore. The definition of argument is “an oral disagreement; verbal opposition; contention; altercation.” Meanwhile, the definition of deliberation is “careful consideration before decision.”

With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Democrats immediately opposed the legislation before the first page was written. That’s the opposite of deliberation. There’s nothing deliberative about that. That fits the definition of argument more than it fits the definition of deliberation.

Here’s Sen. Franken’s final speech on the Senate floor:

There isn’t any proof that Sen. Franken tried identifying the truth. That’s why it’s one of the first casualties upon entering Washington, DC. Rather than lamenting the death of the truth, Democrats should try employing it more consistently.

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It isn’t a stretch to say that the DFL hates cutting taxes. Further, it isn’t a stretch to think that the DFL doesn’t understand economics. When Democrats, whether they’re in the US Senate or the Minnesota legislature, complain about tax cuts for “the rich”, I’m reminded of Ronald Reagan’s cliché that you can’t create jobs if you hurt employers. There’s indisputable proof that companies are leaving the US for low-tax countries. Not all companies leave but there’s no doubt that many companies do.

Yesterday, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Dayton’s veto of the legislature’s operating budget was constitutional. At the heart of that fight is Gov. Dayton’s hatred of tax relief. If Gov. Dayton understood the power of pro-growth tax policies, he wouldn’t have objected to the Republicans’ tax relief bill.

Further, after watching every DFL legislator vote against the tax relief package last spring, it isn’t a dishonest statement to say that the DFL hate pro-growth tax policies. At what point will the DFL admit that pro-growth tax policies work? Will they ever admit that?

It isn’t just DFL legislators that hate pro-growth tax policies. By now, most LFR readers have seen this fight between ‘Uncle Orrin’ Hatch, (R-UT), and Sherrod Brown, (D-OH), during Thursday night’s mark-up of the Senate Tax Cuts and Job Act:

Way to go, Uncle Orrin! That’s what I’d call a beat-down! Beyond seeing Republicans fighting Democrats over the benefits of this pro-growth tax policy, that exchange is instructive because Sen. Brown said something totally stupid. Specifically, Sen. Brown said “And I get sick and tired of the rich always getting richer.” Let me state this clearly. I can’t imagine a politician saying something more foolish than that. Why wouldn’t you want the rich to keep getting richer? If they aren’t getting richer, that means that they aren’t making a profit. People that aren’t making a profit can’t continue employing people.

I don’t know who Republicans will run against Sen. Brown but whoever they run should run that clip morning, noon and night against Sen. Brown. I’d finish the ad by asking ‘Was Sherrod Brown just gratuitously grandstanding? Or is he that economically ignorant?’

Seriously, how can a U.S. senator be that stupid? That’s painful to watch.

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First, I’ll stipulate that there’s no such thing as a permanent majority. Next, though, I’ll state that Democrats have radicalized themselves so much that it’ll take a decade (or more) to become a viable national party. Right now, they’re a bicoastal minority party. That isn’t just my opinion. It’s 538.com’s opinion, too.

In his article, David Wasserman writes “Even if Democrats were to win every single 2018 House and Senate race for seats representing places that Hillary Clinton won or that Trump won by less than 3 percentage points — a pretty good midterm by historical standards — they could still fall short of the House majority and lose five Senate seats.”

Wasserman explains this phenomenon by saying “In the last few decades, Democrats have expanded their advantages in California and New York, states with huge urban centers that combined to give Clinton a 6 million vote edge, more than twice her national margin. But those two states elect only 4 percent of the Senate. Meanwhile, Republicans have made huge advances in small rural states, think Arkansas, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and West Virginia, that wield disproportionate power in the upper chamber compared to their populations.

This is a better explanation for what’s happened during the weakening of the Democratic Party: the Democratic Party has spent far too much time courting environmental activists and too little time connecting with blue collar workers. Democrats focused so much time on Hispanics that they forgot that there’s a ton of blue collar voters in America’s heartland.

If Democrats don’t get their act together, they’ll quickly become the minority party for a generation. It’s that simple.

Now that the new Congress has been sworn in, Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court has faded into history’s mists. With the nomination’s passing came the obligatory statements from the Senate Majority Leader and the new Minority Leader.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said “I’ve been clear throughout that the next president would name the next Supreme Court justice. Now, the president who won the election will make the nomination, and the Senate the American people just re-elected will consider that nomination.”

New Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, (D-NY), issued a sour grapes statement through his spokesman, saying “What Senate Republicans did to Judge Garland, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution was appalling. Judge Garland is respected on both sides of the aisle. That he did not even get so much as a hearing will be a stain on the legacy of the Republican Senate.”

To the average voter, that sounds like “BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.” It sounds like sour grapes. The truth is that Democrats wanted to shift the balance of the Supreme Court for a generation when Justice Scalia unexpectedly passed away. Republicans essentially said ‘Not without a fight first.’

While Democrats express their sour grapes, the American people will move on. They’ll worry whether Senate Democrats will attempt to force families to continue using the ABACA. They’ll worry whether Democrats will insist on not protecting the US-Mexican border. People in Chicago will wonder if the Trump administration will be called in to deal with all of the gang-on-gang violence or whether they’ll be frequent targets of gang-on-gang violence.

Sen. Schumer has more than a little pressure on him. If he makes deals with President Trump, he’ll get booted by Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren for being too soft. If he takes a Warren-like hard line, he’ll imperil somewhat moderate Democratic senators for their 2018 re-election campaigns.

This MinnPost article poses the hypothetical question of whether Sen. Klobuchar will run for governor in 2018 rather than run for re-election to the US Senate. That’s a good question.

The article describes Sen. Klobuchar as “a political heavyweight”, which is fair considering the fact that she’s won her Senate races fairly handily. I don’t know, though, that she’s unbeatable. In the Senate, she’s co-sponsored lots of meaningless bills with Republicans. So what? She hasn’t distinguished herself as a leader on the biggest issues of the day. In fact, she’s avoided the toughest issues of the day.

There’s another consideration that Democrats haven’t talked about, which is that 2018 promises to be a difficult year for Democrats. There’s a definite possibility that Republicans could win enough seats in 2018 to have a filibuster-proof majority in 2019. If that happens, Sen. Klobuchar’s presidential ambitions immediately disappear forever. I can’t picture Sen. Schumer not pressuring Sen. Klobuchar to run for re-election to prevent that filibuster-proof GOP majority.

I don’t doubt that DFL readers of LFR are questioning my implication that a Republican would win that seat if Sen. Klobuchar ran for governor. That’s fair. Still, if Klobuchar ran for governor, I’d bet big money that a Republican like Pete Hegseth would jump in and defeat the DFL-endorsed candidate fairly handily.

Klobuchar could bridge Minnesota’s rural-urban divide: One of the loudest messages of the 2016 election is that many rural residents don’t feel understood or heard by the political establishments in Washington and St. Paul. In particular, many rural residents were upset by the costs of health care.

Sen. Klobuchar voted for the ACA, which means she’s partially to blame for Minnesota’s skyrocketing premiums and expensive premiums. It’s impossible to vote for that disaster, then insist that you’re blameless in the matter.

The only way she’d have credibility is if she voted with Republicans to repeal and replace the ACA. If she did that, the DFL base would treat her like she’d just proposed building a coal-fired power plant in Minneapolis.

Sen. Klobuchar is a formidable opponent. Still, I don’t want Republicans to think that she’s unstoppable. When she ran in 2006 and 2012, she ran in very pro-Democrat elections. That won’t be the situation in 2018. Further, she was protected by the media from scrutiny. While it’s true that the Twin Cities media will still protect ‘St. Amy of Hennepin County’, Sen. Klobuchar’s nickname, Minnesotans are in a totally different mindset.

I still find it difficult to believe she’ll give up her cushy Senate seat to run for governor.

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Initially, it sounded strange to say that John Kennedy has won the runoff in Louisiana to become the Senator-Elect. The race was called just 45 minutes after the polls closed.

The AP article said “Louisiana voters have chosen Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy to fill the state’s open U.S. Senate seat, giving the GOP a 52-48 edge in the chamber. Saturday’s election settled the nation’s last Senate seat for the term beginning in January. Kennedy was the front-runner the entire time. He defeated Democrat Foster Campbell, a state utility regulator whose chances were seen as such a long-shot that national Democratic organizations offered little assistance to Campbell’s campaign.”

That last sentence said everything. The people I’d talked with said their biggest worry was that Kennedy’s lead was so big that they sweated whether Republicans would turn out. Apparently, President-Elect Trump’s visit there yesterday fired up the GOP faithful to the point that Kennedy won a quick victory.

NPR is reporting that “The win by Kennedy, the state treasurer, will give Republicans a 52-48 majority in the Senate come January.”

It’s been an amazing year for Republicans across the nation. They defeated Hillary Clinton. They entered the year defending 24 Senate seats while Democrats were defending 10 seats. Republicans entered the election with a 54-46 seat majority in the US Senate. Many pundits expected Democrats to retake the majority in the Senate. Instead, Democrats finished with a net gain of 2 Senate seats.

Because of their performance this year, Republicans have positioned themselves to win a filibuster-proof majority in 2018. That’ll require recruiting great candidates with an appealing message. Still, it’s much easier recruiting top-tier candidates when you’re winning than when you’re losing.

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According to this article, Sen. Ron Johnson, (R-WI), just put together an ad that mocks ousted US Sen. Russ Feingold. The ad is appropriately titled ‘Skeletons’. According to the article, then-State Sen. Feingold was “low on name identification and cash – did a two-minute ad where he portrayed himself as a quirky, folksy, ‘Man of the People.’ In it, he compared his modest home in Middleton to the luxury mansions of his Democratic opponents, former Congressman Jim Moody and Joe Checota. The ad helped turn Feingold from an also-ran with support in the single-digits, into the front-runner.”

In the ad, Feingold gives “a tour of his own home, in which one of the first things he does is open a nearby broom closet, turn sheepishly to the camera, and say, ‘Look No Skeletons.'” This time, that scene repeatedly shows the skeletons that’ve accumulated in Feingold’s closet. One of the skeletons in Feingold’s closet is a headline that reads “Russ Feingold’s PAC funded fees, salaries for former staffers, himself.”

Another headlining ‘skeleton’ reads “Majority of Feingold campaign contributions coming from outside Wisconsin.” Still another headlining skeleton reads “Russ Feingold, critic of speaking fees as senator, cashed in out of office.”

The race in Wisconsin is tied. That sentence seemed improbable 6 months ago. Back then, most people thought Sen. Johnson was history. With Feingold’s skeletons multiplying, don’t count Sen. Johnson out. That would be a monumental mistake.

It’s been assumed for quite some time that Russ Feingold would defeat Ron Johnson and reclaim the seat Feingold lost in 2010. A funny thing happened on the way to Feingold’s victory celebration, though. Mr. Campaign Finance Reform got caught up in a major campaign finance scandal. According to the Boston Globe, “From 2010 through 2014, [David] Strouss and [Garrett] Bradley, along with founding partner Michael Thornton and his wife, donated nearly $1.6 million to Democratic Party fund-raising committees and a parade of politicians — from Senate minority leader Harry Reid of Nevada to Hawaii gubernatorial candidate David Ige to Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Over the same span, the lawyers received $1.4 million listed as “bonuses” in Thornton Law Firm records; more than 280 of the contributions precisely matched bonuses that were paid within 10 days.”

In that same article, Feingold “had received $45,000 in apparent straw donations from employees of the law firm.” Not that amazingly, “Within hours, his campaign announced they would be returning the $45,000 in donations.”

Apparently, Mr. Squeaky Clean isn’t so squeaky clean.