The PJ Tatler

Is McConnell caving or being cagey? (Update: Caving)

Earlier today Sen. Mitch McConnell declared that no debt ceiling deal is possible as long as Barack Obama is president. Now, McConnell is floating a proposal that’s not a deal exactly. It’s also not likely, at least at this point, to go very far. McConnell’s legislation would essentially allow the president to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling by a relatively small amount (meaning, actually a huge amount) in exchange for budget cuts, and doesn’t include any tax hikes or “revenue raisers” that the Democrats want. Congress could override the president but only with a 2/3 vote, which in the current environment is not happening. That means the cuts part is unlikely to kick in, even while the president gets to kick up the debt ceiling three times. Guy Benson explains it well at the second link; Red State’s Erick Erickson reacts here, comparing McConnell to Pontius Pilate. The problem with such a reaction is that it’s fairly typical of him, to the point that one never knows if the alarm he’s sounding is a real alarm signalling actual crisis or the proverbial cry of “Wolf!” JournoList alum Dave Weigel suggests the McConnell plan, which is a back-up plan, is a punt. Punts certainly aren’t Plan A, so he may have that right. PJ alum Jennifer Rubin broke the story and weighs in here. Her take:

What does this do? It shifts the onus to the president to put up the cuts he wants. Moreover, it puts the Senate Democrats in a tough bind. Do they vote against this if there is no grand bargain, filibustering a mechanism that would avoid default? Having failed to present their own budget, Senate Democrats are now on the spot. As for that White House meeting today, I imagine the White House will be none to pleased. Put up or shut up, they are being told.

And Allahpundit sorts the tea leaves here. Heritage doesn’t like it. I’m not sold that the cuts mechanism will work as designed, given the 2/3 mandate to override the president’s actions. I’m willing to be persuaded, but my gut reaction is that this is a bad move on McConnell’s part. But I also think it’s unlikely to pass. Too many on both sides will end up having too many legitimate and fuzzy problems with it. And in the end, it’s going to result in a raised debt ceiling.

I think Michele Bachmann may have the best answer to this yet: Sure, I’ll vote to raise the debt ceiling if we repeal ObamaCare as part of the deal. ObamaCare remains unpopular and is actually feeding the debt problem, so her answer isn’t a gimmick. It would actually help, both by avoiding default and by getting rid of heinous legislation that’s making the debt problem worse. But that’s even less likely than McConnell’s gambit. Which gets us back to McConnell saying that no real deal is possible as long as Obama occupies the Oval Office.

Bonus: Bill O’Reilly is a total tool in that clip with Bachmann.

Update: Well, JournoList founder Ezra Klein loooves McConnell’s proposal. So, it’s a terrible idea. Scrap it.

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