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‘McConnell Plan’ Puts Debt Limit On Obama

From a quietly cheering Washington Post:

McConnell outlines new proposal on debt ceiling

By Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane, Published: July 12

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell moved Tuesday to head off a potentially disastrous U.S. default by offering President Obama new authority to raise the federal debt limit without cutting government spending.

It’s hard to like the sound of that. Especially in view of how Mr. Obama has abused the authority he already has.

With debt-reduction talks between the White House and GOP leaders stalled, McConnell (R-Ky.) said his proposal offers a “last-choice option” for meeting an Aug. 2 deadline to raise the legal limit on the national debt. Senior Democrats privately embraced the idea, saying it could offer a detour around the looming crisis.

Well, if "senior Democrats" have embraced the idea, then it must be good for the country.

The proposal would transform the political dynamics of the debate, placing the entire burden for raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit on Obama. Republican lawmakers would be spared from voting to raise the limit and could shift their campaign for unprecedented spending cuts to the congressional appropriations process, where the risk of stalemate is shutting down the government instead of capsizing the U.S. economy.

In other words, it sounds like Congress is abrogating its power of the purse here in order to try to escape being blamed. (For people not getting their Social Security checks, for instance.) As if the news media would cooperate.

However, they would lose the approaching deadline as leverage to pursue their cost-cutting agenda.

Oh, that. So who is going to explain to the Tea Party voters why the GOP is reneging on its promise to address the country’s debt crisis?

The proposal is “not my first choice,” McConnell told reporters. But with a bipartisan agreement looking increasingly doubtful, he said, “we’re certainly not going to send a signal to the markets and to the American people that default is an option.”

Sorry, but won’t default still be an option? And given that this plan will work in three stages, we could have defaults at three more points in time? How would that give the markets more confidence in the future?

The White House reacted cautiously to the McConnell plan. Press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement that Obama is still committed to “seizing this unique opportunity to come to agreement on significant, balanced deficit reduction.”

Publicly, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) left the door open to the idea. “I’m willing to look at this,” he told reporters. Privately, Reid has consulted with McConnell about making the proposal more palatable to reluctant Republicans by creating a joint committee to draft an enforceable debt-reduction plan, according to senior sources in both parties. Details are still being worked out, but the new committee would be stocked with Democratic and Republican lawmakers, and their budget-cutting plan could be fast-tracked to a vote in each chamber.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) thanked McConnell for offering the plan as the leaders met at the White House on Tuesday afternoon for a third straight day of negotiations, according to a GOP source briefed on the meeting.

Somehow a plan that Harry Reid has had a hand in and that Nancy Pelosi is grateful for is not very confidence inspiring.

House Republicans were more openly skeptical. Aides said it would be extremely difficult to sell the plan to the rank and file, many of whom believe they were sent to Washington to radically reduce the size of government and have vowed for months to use the debt-limit debate to do it…

Still, with less than three weeks left until the default deadline and no viable alternative in sight, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) declined to shoot it down. “I think everyone realizes there needs to be a backup plan if we can’t come to an agreement,” he told Fox News

Unfortunately, this plan would appear to be just passing the buck to Mr. Obama.

McConnell also gave details of what he called his “backup plan” if the two sides fail to reach an agreement. Under the proposal, Congress would change the rules surrounding the debt limit for the remainder of Obama’s first term.

That measure would create a new legal structure authorizing the president to raise the debt limit by as much as $2.5 trillion in three installments. The first, an increase of $700 billion, would come immediately. The next two, worth $900 billion each, would come this fall and sometime next summer.

On each occasion, Obama would be required to submit to Congress an explicit request for an increase, along with a menu of proposed spending cuts equal to the requested increase.

Naturally any proposed cuts would be in the distant future, while the increase in debt would be immediate. Also, try to imagine what cuts could get a 2/3rds vote in the Democrat controlled Senate.

Here is a hint: the would be cuts to military spending and cuts to entitlements and tax deductions currently enjoyed by all those rich people who make more than $200,000 a year.

The submission of the president’s first request would automatically raise the debt limit by $100 billion to give the Treasury Department breathing room while Congress considers the request.

Lawmakers would then have 15 days to pass a resolution of disapproval, giving them an opportunity to go on record against raising the debt ceiling. But Obama could veto the resolution, and the debt limit would then rise, providing that at least 34 Democratic senators stood firm in upholding his veto.

McConnell’s strategy makes no provision for spending cuts to be enacted. Aides said lawmakers could pick and choose from the president’s list when they put together appropriations bills in a separate process

In other words McConnell’s plan allows Mr. Obama to simply present a selective list of future cuts that may never happen. Sure, the House could vote it down. But Obama could still get the debt ceiling increased anyway, since he has control of the Senate. And the Senate will never let the country go into ‘default’ and seniors miss their Social Security checks.

Ultimately, all that would be accomplished by this plan is that the House Republicans could escape blame for the debt ceiling increase. As if anybody would care by that point. Except, perhaps the Tea Party supporters, who will never forgive or forget this betrayal.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

14 Responses to “‘McConnell Plan’ Puts Debt Limit On Obama”

  1. tranquil.night says:

    The back-room debt compromise appears to have fallen apart, good riddance. Yeah, yay Boehner and all (really, it just goes to prove once again that the Tea Party influence or fervor hasn’t been any less marginalized than the thousands of other attempts by the Ruling Class to pass that narrative off as conventional wisdom).

    More importantly, as long as the Republicans hold the line, we’ve got their back. P. Grizzly – total flake – is in the fray again, grabbing headlines for her latest facebook analysis – making the unnecesarily and ridiculously complex, simple:

    The same “experts” who got us into this mess are now telling us that the only way out of our debt crisis is to “increase revenue,” but not by creating more jobs and therefore a larger tax base; no, they want to “increase revenue” by raising taxes on job creators who are taxed enough already!

    Especially loved her thoughts on leadership.

    And a hattip and link love to Stacy McCain for accompanying his post with the Cthulhu song.

  2. BigOil says:

    A stroke of genius by the GOP. We have a Marxist tinhorn dictator that has tacked on 5 trillion in debt in less than 3 years time. Why not give him the power to add another 2.5 trillion dollars in debt over the next year and a half.

    Apparently elections no longer have consequences. A message was sent 8 months ago to stop the spending. The best the GOP can come up with is handing their Constitutional authority over to a meglomaniac. I am quickly coming to the conclusion the impending shipwreck is unavoidable.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      What the American people have to realize, at an absolutely core level, is that elected officials are largely incompetent. Doesn’t matter if they are republican or democrat. Most of them have engaged on a career of rhetoric and appearances. They can’t make simple associations such as how to manage money in the small case and apply that to the larger case. There are volumes of examples.

      When the argument has been removed from the truly practical and instead, is presented in emotional context, the American people always lose.

  3. Petronius says:


    By what authority does the Congress delegate its legislative powers to the President? Shall the Supreme Court also delegate its judicial functions to the President?

    Are Americans no longer capable of self-government? Have we at last given way to Caesarism? Is the American republic finished?

  4. tranquil.night says:


    • GetBackJack says:

      This is so unexpected you would make this sort of unexpected remark, Tranq.

      Oops, I forgot your ™

    • tranquil.night says:

      Trademark is © the AP’s economic Journobot. 2009-11. All right’s reserved.

      And yes… I’m very, very upset with this. If this goes through, he leaves everybody on the battlefield when we’ve just united on this and got all the upward momentum on the argument for cut, cap, and balance (bless DeMint and the Roughriders). He’s got to realize what he’s proposing is his own suicide and a darker path for the country.

    • GetBackJack says:

      This is so unexpected that a professional political criminal would undertake STUPIDITY, Bias, Maneuvering, Machinations, Corruption and Manipulation in order to grab the spotlight and perform an anal procedure on the American taxpayer.

      Or, as Ann Coulter calls it, “Demonic”.

  5. Chase says:

    You gotta wonder what Obama has on these idiots who are willing to hand everything over to him, just to have the political “record” of washing their hands….no courage, no willingness to stick together and to see the electorate’s quest realized, but just backup plans to capitulate, as Petronius stated.

    We have heard murmurings of the need for another stimulus. We were outraged by the first $878b or whatever it was – money that disappeared into the air – into Democratic-loyalist coffers and unions – to what end? And so now, that outrage having diminished and faded into “oh well” we are now going to offer Obama another $2.5T to play with, just in time to buy another 4 years?

    Someone needs to check the Capitol Hill water supply or cafeterias….the GOP side must be addled with estrogen or such.

  6. proreason says:

    Why doesn’t Mr McConnel just temporarilly suspend the Constitution?

    That would solve a lot of problems for Washington, wouldn’t it?

  7. The New American Revolution says:

    They are destroying our country. Save it while we can. Our founders had the balls to revolt over a 2% tax increase, we have become such lazy asses we sit back and accept when congress willingly turns this Great Republic into a dictatorship. Let me ask this question, with all of the times Osama, oops, I mean Obama has flat out ignored the Supreme Court and Congress is it so hard to see him ignoring the elections and refusing to leave? Especially after Congress has handed him complete control of this country? Stand up for your rights, act upon your words because if you don’t very soon you will not be able to speak them.

    That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. – Excerpt from The Declaration of Independence

    Help us save this country if the votes in November are destructive to our freedoms then it is our DUTY to take the country back.


  8. Not so fast says:

    This is the stupidest thing EVER to come out of Washington. The most unpopular President in History is going to get a blank check by the opposing party who actually won one house of the Government, from a super majority, to oppose him. It’s beyond stupid! If McConnel and Boehner fumble this ball they need to be immediately removed from power. NOT the next election. TEA anyone?

  9. tranquil.night says:

    “The idea that a $16 trillion national debt would automatically bounce Obama out of office, while a $14 trillion debt left him favored for re-election, is simply delusional.”

    Doc0: Recipe of the Day: Linguini McConnell Over Weaksauce

  10. tranquil.night says:

    Steve’s commentary on this plan is money, so don’t fall for the spin.

    – Obama won’t have to submit genuine cuts
    – He won’t have to veto a resolution of disapproval because we only control one half of one third of government.
    – Markets and our credit rating will not be stabilized by three more debt limit increases before 2012.

    Dollar for dollar real cuts, enforceable caps on growth, and an honest debate/floor vote for a BBA.

    Otherwise plan B is to take this on a CR basis and pay our priorities, even if it takes past Aug 2 for him to get realistic.

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