Mitch McConnell's New Blinky Gambit On Debt Ceiling

How sick are you over this never ending debt ceiling debate? The latest is coming from Mitch McConnell, who is proposing a deal that allows Republicans to vote no on raising the ceiling, then allows Obama to veto them and each time he must submit

How sick are you over this never ending debt ceiling debate? The latest is coming from Mitch McConnell, who is proposing a deal that allows Republicans to vote no on raising the ceiling, then allows Obama to veto them and each time he must submit imaginary budget cuts. I say imaginary because it's not a hard piece of legislation so Obama isn't obligated to honor the cuts. Are you confused?

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday laid out a plan that puts the responsibility for increasing the debt limit squarely on President Obama.

McConnell has called for Congress to pass legislation authorizing Obama to make successive requests to increase the debt limit.

Under the legislation, Congress could only block those requests by passing resolutions of disapproval, which would have to be supported by two-thirds of both the Senate and House to overcome an expected presidential veto. McConnell described his proposal as a “last choice option” to avoid a national default if Congress fails to otherwise agree to a compromise to raise the debt limit by Aug. 2, when the Treasury Department has warned it will run out of money to pay U.S. debts.

It would send a clear signal to the markets and the public that the nation will not default on its debt, which would boost interest rates and make mortgages, auto loans, credit cards and student loans more expensive.

Duncan writes:

I don't think it matters if they force Obama to come up with spending cut proposals that won't go anywhere. He can just turn the whole thing into a farce, and do things like proposing to zero out the defense budget in year 10 or other things which obviously won't happen.

Kevin Drum explains it a little more and is mystified.

Obama has been screaming that we have to raise the debt ceiling as well as many economists and Wall Streeters so it's not like it'll be a shock to America if they make him repeatedly have to ask for it, but it appears McConnell feels that they can keep the debt ceiling in our political discourse throughout the election cycle and it will aid them. Or, he's looking at internal polling and not liking what he sees. I don't want a Grand Bargain even though it's apparent that the president does, but is this the only way for there to be a clean vote on the ceiling after all?


Digby writes:

The deal is certainly preferable on policy grounds to gutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in a Grand Bargain. But it isn't clean and it isn't free. It feels like the death by a thousand cuts instead.

On the other hand, Arthur Delaney just tweeted that they may throw in some extended unemployment to make the medicine go down, so that's good. Creating jobs would be better, but that's highly unlikely under this austerity so this is the next best thing.

Update: According to dday, these spending cuts are hypothetical:

Based on this summary from McConnell’s office, it appears that the President would have to write down a plan for spending cuts right away, but they would not be enacted alongside an increase in the debt limit. They would be hypothetical. Rich Lowry says the House reaction is dim to this proposal.

If McConnell's plan could make it through without required spending cuts then it would essentially be a series of clean votes, albeit clumsy, confused and byzantine. And that's a good thing! No wonder the wingnuts are going batshit. (I wonder how the White House sees it.)

Red State is one of the wingers going batshit crazy over this move by McConnell: Mitch McConnell Just Proposed the “Pontius Pilate Pass the Buck Act of 2011″

Mitch McConnell is right now talking about making a historic capitulation. So fearful of being blamed for a default, McConnell is proposing a compromise that lets Barack Obama raise the debt ceiling without making any spending cuts at all..

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UPDATE: Some of the most willfully ignorant and willfully naive McConnell supporters are coming out of the woodwork to say this is not *the* plan, but a contingency plan if *the* plan can’t be agreed to. So let’s get this straight: if Democrats won’t agree to make spending cuts, we’ll fall back to the contingency where they get to raise the debt ceiling without making spending cuts.

That’s not a contingency, that’s handing the Democrats a silver platter.

The Tea Party basically wants to not raise the debt ceiling so that they can cut 40% of government spending in one fell swoop. Just think about what would happen to the country if that happened? It's Grover's wet dream come true.

Jonathan Cohn is excellent on policy and he's finally very worried about the reality of a possible Grand Bargain taking place: Hello? President Obama? It's the Department of WTF Calling.

So what would Obama get in return? It’s hard to know for sure, given the scattered reports from the leaks. But the pattern certainly isn’t encouraging. As Ezra Klein notes in this morning’s “Wonkbook,” Obama has also offered to adjust the benefit formula for Social Security, so that it pays less in the future. In exchange for these and other concessions, Republicans have shown themselves willing to give up ... nothing. Obama keeps saying he wants a “balanced” approach and “shared sacrifice,” in which some changes like these may belong. But, except for a brief moment when House Speaker John Boehner made the mistake of trying to act like a statesman, the Republicans have made clear they want no part of such a deal. (And, yes, by risking the U.S. economy, as well as the world’s, they are acting like terrorists do. But negotiating with terrorists is never a good idea.)

A lot of my friends think the administration’s approach to these talks reflects a crass political calculation: That positioning the president as a mediator between the parties will boost his reelection prospects. I assume there's some truth to that: Today's New York Times story on Obama's centrist bona fides doesn't look like the kind that materialized out of thin air. But I also see other motives at work. In particular, I think Obama wants to be the president who makes big, transformative accomplishments—he wants to be the president who does what everybody says can’t be done. And right now a major deficit reduction deal is what everybody says can’t be done.

It’s an admirable quality, in most respects. But news like yesterday's makes me worry that Obama’s desire to produce a deal may be blinding him to what’s in it.

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