Commentary: McConnell's START treaty stance purely political

The (Raleigh) News & ObserverDecember 21, 2010 

As the Senate nears a vote on the New START nuclear arms treaty with Russia, some Republicans, including Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, minority leader, sadly have signaled their opposition. McConnell argues against a perfectly sensible attempt to curb nuclear proliferation and resume mutual inspections of weapons, an aim that ought to be a no-brainer among members of the Senate who understand its practical and symbolic importance.

In what age does the leader reside? Will he next reckon that something must be done quickly to thwart the Sputnik advance?

His age really is one of his own making, the Age of Beating Obama. He and other treaty opponents on Capitol Hill talk as if national security would be endangered by the agreement - ignoring the many present and former national security officials, Republicans included, who favor it. The objective clearly is to defeat the president on an important agenda item during the lame-duck session and kick the treaty to a more Republican Congress that will take over next month.

So in targeting START, McConnell is likely making a political maneuver in what he sees as the best interest of his party. Americans must hope that cooler heads in the GOP prevail and that the two-thirds majority needed for passage is attained.

The treaty vote, scheduled for today, will come after some enlightened decisions on the part of the upper chamber (affirming earlier House votes) and one that is really terrible.

Passage of the Bush-era tax cut extensions included a provision to have a tax of 35 percent on estates of couples after the first $10 million goes to heirs. That formula will leave a lot of money the country needs on the table, but it was a victory of sorts for President Obama in that Republicans actually opposed any "death tax," as they called it. So tax cuts (that were set to expire) will continue for the wealthiest Americans, who don't need them, as well as for the members of the middle class, who do.

The White House declared victory. So did McConnell, champion of the wealthy.

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