Skip to comments.Backlash to McConnell’s contingency plan continues ("We will not pretend a bad deal is a good one")
Posted on 07/13/2011 9:44:56 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Who knows what to think about the surprising turn of events that took place yesterday, when, after a rousing speech on the Senate floor to the effect that he would not cave on the debt ceiling, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) proposed a backup plan that would essentially allow the president to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling?
McConnell’s plan has only one defense. Let’s call it “the argument from politics” or “the argument from pragmatism.” In an editorial this morning, The Wall Street Journal provided a representative articulation of this argument:
The hotter precincts of the blogosphere were calling this a sellout yesterday, though they might want to think before they shout. The debt ceiling is going to be increased one way or another, and the only question has been what if anything Republicans could get in return. If Mr. Obama insists on a tax increase, and Republicans won’t vote for one, then what’s the alternative to Mr. McConnell’s maneuver?
Republicans who say they can use the debt limit to force Democrats to agree to a balanced budget amendment are dreaming. Such an amendment won’t get the two-thirds vote to pass the Senate, but it would give every Democrat running for re-election next year a chance to vote for it and claim to be a fiscal conservative. …
The tea party/talk-radio expectations for what Republicans can accomplish over the debt-limit showdown have always been unrealistic. As former Senator Phil Gramm once told us, never take a hostage you’re not prepared to shoot. Republicans aren’t prepared to stop a debt-limit increase because the political costs are unbearable. Republicans might have played this game better, but the truth is that Mr. Obama has more cards to play. …
Even if Mr. Obama gets his debt-limit increase without any spending cuts, he will pay a price for the privilege. He’ll have reinforced his well-earned reputation as a spender with no modern peer. He’ll own the record deficits and fast-rising debt. And he’ll own the U.S. credit-rating downgrade to AA if Standard & Poor’s so decides.
We’d far prefer a bipartisan deal to cut spending and reform entitlements without a tax increase. But if Mr. Obama won’t go along, there’s no reason Republicans should help him dodge the political consequences by committing debt-limit harakiri.
Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, essentially said the same yesterday, although Norquist also says he doesn’t specifically endorse the McConnell proposal, but rather a move of some kind to force the president to put a plan in writing (which McConnell’s maneuver does).
McConnells plan, while it may be a last resort option, is simply a recognition of the fact that significant budgetary changes are all but impossible as long as Obama is in the White House. Norquist says it is extremely important that Republicans dont let the president off the hook by putting their fingerprints on his misbehavior and agreeing to a lousy bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling (particularly one that raises taxes). Doing so would give Obama a huge political victory that is completely undeserved.
But some conservative groups are in effect turning McConnell’s own words on the Senate floor against him, telling McConnell, “We will not pretend a bad deal is a good one.” ForAmerica Chairman Brent Bozell, for example, had this to say in a statement yesterday, as the ForAmerica Facebook team posted a red alert urging the group’s more than one million online activists to call McConnell to disapprove:
If Mitch McConnell thinks caving to President Obama and allowing him to raise the debt ceiling without cuts is the way to become Senate Majority Leader he is sorely mistaken. The American people elected him to serve as a check on Obamas appetite for out-of-control spending, not to write him a blank check to continue the binge. Its these sort of shenanigans that got Republicans thrown out of power in 2006. If he is serious about giving Obama and the Democrats a free pass in exchange for not having to make the difficult decisions, he should look to John Boehner to see real courage.
Bozell is right that Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) continue to fight for meaningful spending cuts in exchange for a debt limit increase, but, notably, Boehner himself characterized McConnell’s plan as “good work.” The line from House Republicans seems to be that having this backup plan in place could substantially help the deal negotiation itself.
But I’m skeptical. All along, I’ve had what the WSJ called “tea-party/talk radio … unrealistic expectations” of Republicans. In my mind, the debt ceiling debate was a hostage Republicans were prepared to shoot — because, with no real threat of default and with the overwhelming support of the American people to oppose any debt limit increase at all, “no deal” needn’t have had politically unbearable consequences, provided Republicans somehow made it clear any painful consequences (Social Security checks not going out, for example) were a result of the president’s decisions as to how to prioritize spending under a debt limit budget.
Naively, I thought that’s what McConnell was saying on the Senate floor yesterday — that no solution could be reached, so Republicans would have to vote against a debt limit increase. What he was actually saying was that no solution could be reached, so he would have to propose a plan that would force (or free) the president to raise the ceiling by himself. The difference between the two is more than $2 trillion in authorized debt.
McConnell’s plan does provide political cover — but how cool would it have been if he would have had confidence that the American people would pay attention and provide that cover themselves by nobly accepting whatever difficult consequences ensued from no debt limit increase and voting out the bad budgeters in Nov. 2012?
But then the question becomes, could Republicans have depended on the electorate in that way? Maybe not. Perhaps my faith in the American people is also reflective of “tea party/talk radio … unrealistic expectations.” Maybe politicians like McConnell have learned to hedge their bets with political tricks because experience has taught them the voting public is fickle. Maybe the mistrust rightly goes both ways: The electorate can’t trust politicians to be principled, politicians can’t trust the electorate to reward principled decision-making … Cynicism setting in.
McConnell’s plan is beyond bad. The plan is to basically to give Obama everything he wants and at the same time try to fool the electorate into believing Republicans are against raising the debt limit.
Is he having a stroke? He seems a little off. If his face starts to droop call 911.
Mitch McConnell should resign immediately and....John Boehner with him. Both these “closet” Democrats are aiding and abetting the enemy, POTUS Obama and his Democrat Party in their quest and trek to destroy the American economy and then, the nation itself!!!
Republicans need to stop retreating when victory is at hand.
Sorry folks, Looks like McConnell is "stumblingly" badly...probably re-electing "the Won"....
Since OBahbah couldn't "roll" the Speaker, he gone after MItch.
he must've had too much Alcohol @ the Washington D.C. Cocktail Party / Golf Outting
celebrating the NEW! (the 3rd...4th?) Stimulus Package.
McConnell admitted in an interview yesterday that his “Plan B” would not guarantee there would be any spending cuts, even should Congress vote to approve Obama’s requests. Thus it’s a straw dog of a plan. No way should this plan be considered.
This man can’t be trusted. He says one thing, then acts just the opposite. After his speech yesterday I had guarded hope that he’d made the proper decision. That’s the last time I’ll give him any credit.
I don’t care if the McConnell plan is good or bad, politically or economically.
The bottom line is that the GOP again FAILS at message coordination and discipline. McConnell deliberately and systemmatically undermined Boehner, Cantor and House Republicans — let alone our voices in conservative media.
The MSM is having a field day with this apparent fracture in the GOP ranks. We deserve better. A 10-year old could do a better job in project management.
We’re saying the same thing. Only I showed how he had to admit he was aware his plan would fail even as he presented it.
Many of those old farts in the senate love spending as much as the democrats.
Bottom line is the Senate Republicans need to replace this gutless, limp-wristed, ignorant a$$ clown out of the leadership position. THIS IS A TIME FOR LEADERS AND SENATOR MUMBLES HAS PROVEN THAT HE IS BOTH UNABLE AND UNWILLING TO STEP UP AND BE ONE!
This fraud is no Kentuckian...
No, the solution to avoid blame is not to let the deadline pass. That approach would guarantee blame on the GOP.
The House should pass the plan endorsed by NRO - a $100 billion debt ceiling increase, with new authority directed to paying SS and related benefits — coupled with a $100 billion spending reduction in discretionary domestic spending.
Obama has said he would not support a short-term deal. CALL HIS BLUFF. He is lying.
Send this House-enacted bill to the Senate. Reid cannot bury it; too many RAT senators up for re-election next year, and they will fold like cheap suits (Manchin, Nelson, Tester, and many more).
Then, you think Obama’s gonna veto grandma’s SS check?
It is time for some stones, not unilateral surrender.
@1:05 - "There is a good deal of conservative support for what I laid out yesterday beginning with the Wall Street Journal editorial page today."
@1:44 - "Doing the right thing for the country is our first obligation, but we cannot force a result, we need to do the next best thing and that's clarify the differences between the two parties."
@2:14 - "They want to blame the economy on us and the reason default is no better an idea today than it was when Newt Gingrich tried it in 1995, is it destroys your brand, and it gives the president an opportunity to blame Republicans for a bad economy."
@3:03 - Laura: "While it puts the burden, it shifts the burden to the greatest extent to Obama, in effect there is kind of a vote at the beginning to raise the debt ceiling because you are ceding..." McConnell: "No, no. It only authorizes the president to ask for it. There will be no vote to raise the debt ceiling I suspect by any Republican."
Laura: "Isn't that passing the buck, Senator? Isn't that passing the buck of leadership to the White House?"
McConnell: "We've been trying to get this liberal president to sign a deal worth signing. You know it makes a difference when you only control a third of the government. If we were able to run the government out of the House of Representatives we would be able to get a result that we would like."
@4:40 - Laura: "When I see the New York Times on the other hand, praising the deal, Harry Reid seeming to be open to it, and even the White House murmers that it might be something acceptable I get a little nervous, why do you think they are embracing it?"
McConnell: "Because they want to raise the debt ceiling and of course we know that is going to happen. Just like we knew shutting down the government in 1995 was not going to work for us, it helped Bill Clinton get reelected. I refuse to help Barack Obama get reelected."
@5:34 - "If we go into default he [Obama] will say that Republicans are making the economy worse and try to convince the public, maybe with some merit, if people start not getting their Social Security checks, military families start not getting letters saying that service people overseas don't get paid, you know that's an argument he would have a good chance of winning and all of a sudden we are co-ownership, we have co-ownership of a bad economy. That is very bad positioning going into election."
@8:34 - "We had hoped this would present an opportunity to cut spending. It looks as if, it may change, but it looks as if it is only going to be an opportunity for him to try to entice us top raising taxes and as I said when I started I'm not going to be a part of turning the Republicans into tax collectors for the welfare state."
i guess being 1/100 is just as good as being king eh ???
the founders screwed the pooch when they neglected term limits in the US Constitution...
It guarantees there will not be.
even should Congress vote to approve Obamas requests
Why bother with a vote when the plan lets it pass with a 1/3 vote?
Meanwhile we cannot get any conservative bills to the floor for a vote without 2/3rds voting to do so. Like unbanning lightbulbs.