McConnell and Biden could work together behind scenes on Social Security and spending, Dyche says

01/06/2011 07:45 PM

While Democrats criticized Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell last year for his steadfast opposition, Washington’s divided government gives McConnell the chance to compromise with Democrats on several of the most politically radioactive issues, his biographer said.

John David Dyche, the Louisville lawyer and Courier-Journal contributing columnist who wrote a 2009 biography of McConnell, said on Pure Politics Thursday that McConnell has the opportunity to quietly work with top Democrats on issues of Social Security and federal spending cuts.

John David Dyche, Republican commentator

“It’s just his style to work more behind the scenes,” Dyche said. “I think we saw some indications that he and Vice President (Joe) Biden, who is a product of the Senate with whom he has a good working relationship, can work on some of these hard issues and only bring them out publicly and only bring them out when they reach some level of consensus.”

This would follow a productive lame-duck session of Congress in December in which McConnell figured prominently in a compromise with President Barack Obama over extending the Bush-era tax cuts.

“I thought President Obama handled the lame duck session extremely well, and I think if he had governed like that throughout the first two years of the administration, he wouldn’t be in some of the political difficulty that it’s in,” Dyche said. “I think it’s hopeful actually, for the next couple of years. I think that there is a willingness on the part of the president and the Republican leaderhsip to tackle some tough issues.”

Now that Republicans have the House, and Democrats narrowly control the Senate and Obama remains in the White House, Dyche said he is hopeful that such a divided government will lead to solutions, such as making sure Social Security remains financially stable over the long haul.

“Both sides need some success, and quite honestly, I think they both realize that the problems of hte country have reached such a level that they’re going to have to swallow some tough political pills in order to address them,” he said.

In the interview, Dyche also predicted Republican Senate President David Williams will win the GOP primary for governor “and win big.” Williams faces Louisville businessman Phil Moffett in the May 17 primary so far. But the filing deadline for candidates isn’t until Jan. 25.

And Dyche said he is eager to watch Kentucky’s freshman U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, whom he once called “a colorful curiosity” in one of his Courier-Journal columns.

One test for Paul, he said, is what specifically he will propose to slash federal spending by $500 billion. Paul again pledged earlier this week to introduce a measure to do that but didn’t offer any details about how.

Dyche noted that such a proposal is scaled back from Paul’s early campaign pledges to balance the budget in a year.

“The $500 billion falls far short of what he promised multiple times,” Dyche said.

- Ryan Alessi


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