McConnell announces fallback plan: Let’s give Obama the power to raise the debt ceiling himself

posted at 4:11 pm on July 12, 2011 by Allahpundit

NRO has a step-by-step rundown of how things would work legislatively, but it’s baroque. You’re better off with Guy Benson’s user-friendly explanation. This is, quite simply, an enabling statute:

Now that the table is set, here’s how the proposed plan would work: Republicans in Congress would agree to vote to authorize the president to propose three separate incremental debt ceiling increases, spaced over the remainder of his term. He would be required to couple each request with a corresponding set of spending cuts that exceed the dollar amount of his sought-after debt limit hike. These cuts would be of his choosing alone. The first pair of requests would come prior to the August 2 deadline. It would be for roughly $700 Billion. The next requests, for $900 Billion, would come in the fall, and the final tranche (also for $900 Billion) would be scheduled for summer of 2012 — in the thick of the campaign cycle.

In all likelihood, on each occasion, Republicans would overwhelmingly vote to disapprove of the president’s debt ceiling increase request. This allows GOP members (and almost certainly some vulnerable Democrats) to technically vote “no” on raising the debt ceiling. If, as is likely, simple majorities in both houses vote to disapprove of the president’s requests, he’d be forced to veto each disapproval, pinging the issue back to Capitol Hill. If Congress can’t override those vetos with 2/3 majorities (and Republicans won’t have the votes, even with some Democrats), the debt ceiling will increase. But not without the exacting a substantial political price from the president and his allies in Congress. They will own the debt ceiling hike. Period. Members of Congress who vote with the president will set themselves up to be targeted by brutal attack ads (“so-and-so has voted to increase the national debt limit three times in the last year alone,” etc).

It sounds complicated but it’s not. This achieves two things in one fell swoop: (1) it provides a nearly foolproof mechanism to avoid default armageddon in case the two sides can’t make a deal by August 2, which will reassure markets, and (2) by investing Obama with near-unilateral power to raise the ceiling (it’s not fully unilateral because Congress could, in theory, override him with a 2/3 vote), it makes him almost wholly responsible for the debt hike, which will be a major political liability with the election around the corner and a plurality of voters still more worried about raising the ceiling than letting a default happen. After a month of shrieking from lefty legal experts about how the Fourteenth Amendment supposedly lets O ignore the ceiling, here’s McConnell calling their bluff. You want to own America’s debt problem? Enjoy.

Dave Weigel says he can’t see why any Republican would vote for something like this when Obama already owns the debt problem. The answer: Because if talks break down and default looms, which seems increasingly likely given even moderate Dems’ demands for tax concessions and the House GOP’s unhappiness with a medium-sized debt deal, it almost certainly won’t be Obama who owns the fallout. For a variety of reasons, including but not limited to media Narrative-building and The One’s own determined efforts to position himself as a “centrist pragmatist” even if it means reducing the chances of making a deal, it’ll be the GOP who bears the brunt politically. (A Pew poll taken last month found 42 percent would blame Republicans if no deal got done versus 33 percent who’d blame the White House.) McConnell’s bill is anticipating that and trying to salvage a political victory from likely defeat by punting the whole mess to The One if no deal can be reached. It’ll be horribly, horribly disappointing if the big debt-ceiling showdown results in nothing more than a few trillion in cuts of Obama’s own choosing, but the alternative if talks break down is no cuts at all, a possible economic tailspin, and endless media shrieking about how this never would have happened if it not for those darned wingnuts and their fetish for rich people.

Long story short, the debt-ceiling showdown was a big gamble and this is McConnell’s way of hedging the party’s bets at the eleventh hour. Unsatisfying, but if it happens and O faces a nasty backlash for raising the ceiling, it’s a compelling argument next year for why we need a Republican president and more Republican congressmen. A serious deal on long-term sustainability simply isn’t possible with the left in control of one or more branches of government. If the GOP wants to do this, they’ll have to do it themselves. And then reap the consequences.

Breaking on Hot Air



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Budget for all previous presidents. 96.1 trillion.

Budget and spending for Obama doesn’t come close …

Monkei on July 12, 2011 at 4:55 PM

You are getting “budget” and the debt deficit confused, poor boy. There had been NO budget since the dems took over Congress, and Oclueless came to office. Learn the difference…

lovingmyUSA on July 12, 2011 at 9:36 PM

r keller on July 12, 2011 at 8:15 PM

Far be it from me to challenge the WSJ‘s thesis, but aren’t there two hostages here–the debt ceiling and the 2012 budget? And really, shooting either of them isn’t the point–it’s holding them, well-fed, in a fully disclosed location, because they have all the money. Of course they’ll be freed–each of them. But while in captivity beyond certain deadlines, Barry and Tim have some prioritizing and allocating to do. In fact, is it a stretch to view the debt ceiling as simply an alternative to the budget, as a partial shut-down device?

Barnestormer on July 12, 2011 at 9:44 PM

I don’t understand why Ed and AP try to ram that JournoLister Weigel down our throats all the time. The guy is a fraud and anti conservative… why would we care what he has to say about anything?

CCRWM on July 12, 2011 at 10:02 PM

McConnell announces fallback plan: Let’s give Obama the power to raise the debt ceiling himself

Now he sounds like the Dali Lama.

lexhamfox on July 12, 2011 at 10:24 PM

Screw it, at this point I say let the whole thing crash. I’m ready, are you?

Alden Pyle on July 12, 2011 at 10:24 PM

I was beginning to have hope they would not betray you…

True_King on July 12, 2011 at 11:40 PM

These cuts would be of his choosing alone

Total despicable abdication of Confessional authority.

AshleyTKing on July 12, 2011 at 11:59 PM

McConnell is simply terrified of the truth.

Mr. Grump on July 13, 2011 at 6:27 AM

Are you bereft of your senses, Allahpundit?

In the first place no debt default will take place. There is more than enough income expected to pay for that by a very wide margin. SS and Medicare eat about half of what we will receive or $100 billion. Debt service is some $29 billion. That leaves money for the military and a VERY lean diet for all the rest of the government.

If Obama fails to pay granny her Social Security that is HIS choice. He will not be forced to make that choice since he has many many others available.

Giving Obama the keys to the debt limit is one of the most damnfoolish things I’ve heard out of Congress and our collection of super-rinos.


herself on July 13, 2011 at 6:50 AM

Mitch McConnell is Wiley Coyote!

Belt to strap it around his waist
Roller skates

And President Obama goes “Meep-Meep!”

chumpThreads on July 13, 2011 at 8:44 AM

Is it any wonder McConnell went for the nuclear option?!

The Market Ticker ® – Commentary on The Capital Markets
Posted 2011-07-13 08:32
by Karl Denninger
in Politics

Democrats: The Party of Public Frauds

If you were wondering if the alleged Biden “$2 trillion” in spending cuts are real, they’re not:

“How much does the Biden plan actually cut from next year’s discretionary spending budget?” the Kentucky Republican asked the room.

Obama’s Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew told him, “$2 billion.”

$2 billion. Not trillion, billion.

In other words, the entire claim of the Democrats and the so-called “Biden plan” is a fraud.

mountainaires on July 13, 2011 at 9:22 AM

this guy needs to keep his mouth shut. he is afraid of the media !!! He does not understand that media is NEVER going to side with conservatives !!!

aniladesai on July 13, 2011 at 7:57 PM