Republican officials made a last-minute change to their tax plan last week, adding a provision benefiting those with real estate income through LLCs. It's quickly become known as the "Corker Kickback" because the measure will personally benefit Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who changed his mind about the bill after the provision was added to the legislation. The Tennessean insists the two developments are unrelated.
When Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) was asked about the change yesterday on ABC News' "This Week," he seemed eager to blame ... Democrats.
"Well, our Democratic colleagues simply refused to participate in the process. We probably could have made it better if they had."
It's a curious message. As Republicans get ready to approve their only meaningful legislative accomplishment of the year, it's a bit jarring to hear the #2 GOP senator already making excuses for why his party's bill isn't "better."
But it's even more bizarre that Cornyn is blaming Democrats for the bill's shortcomings. Indeed, when George Stephanopoulos asked why it was necessary to add this controversial provision in the final package, the Texas Republican again said, "Well, we were working very hard. It was a very intense process. As I said, the Democrats refused to participate."
Moments later, in the same interview, Cornyn once again insisted, "As I said, our Democratic colleagues had every chance to participate and simply refused."
It's almost as if the Senate Majority Whip appeared on the show because he wanted to push a single talking point, even if that meant ignoring important questions.
Cornyn's evasiveness was its own problem, but making matters worse was the fact that his talking point was demonstrably silly.
The Republican tax plan was written in secret by Republicans. Democrats weren't invited to participate in negotiations, though they were desperate to have some input.
Indeed, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the Senate's most conservative Democrat, told Chuck Todd yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he "wanted to be more involved," and he even gave the White House some ideas that the West Virginian believed could garner Democratic support, but he was ignored.
As Manchin explained, once Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) decided "that 51 votes was all he needed and they were all going to be Republicans and make it political, that's exactly what happened."
The only time Republicans were even willing to talk to Democrats about the bill was at the one and only meeting of the conference committee, which was itself a joke -- because GOP officials had already announced that they'd wrapped up behind-closed-doors work on the legislation before the "negotiations" even began.
It's against this backdrop that John Cornyn is complaining that Democrats "refused" to participate in the process they were excluded from. It's like whining after a birthday party that your neighbors didn't show up after you failed to invite them and then locked the door when you saw them outside.
"Well, we probably could have had a better party if those rascally neighbors hadn't refused to attend...."