Tuesday, July 12, 2011

McConnell's Bizarre 'Plan B'

Further evidence of the GOP caucus shattering in the heat of the debt ceiling negotiations (see the post below), is what seems to me to be a truly bizarre 'plan B' proposed today my Mitch McConnell.

The WaPo outlines McConnell's fall back,
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. 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.
My friends at TPM see this proposal as McConnell blinking on the standoff with the White House.

Maybe so, but it seems more to me that this is just some partisan fantasy in which the GOP can completely abdicate any responsibility for leadership while boxing in the POTUS and skewering him for literally every increase in the debt ceiling (and at $100B cap, this will be about every 6 -8 weeks) and also skewering him for every proposed budget cut.

It's crazy, right? Obama has them on the run and a chance at real meaningful budget reforms. The Dems will never sign off on this, right?

I'm not that worried by Social Security cuts at the margins taking effect in 10 or 15 years because if the economy recovers those are easy to void. And you could completely scrap Medicare Part D as far as I'm concerned. Part D is nothing but a transfer of federal revenue to Big Pharma.

But if Obama and Congress really can strike a 'grand bargain' in the 3 to 4 Trillion dollar mark, this will have a dramatic effect on the stock market as well as the US and global economy. Recall the dramatic effect of Clinton's first budget that paved the way to surpluses.

Obama has the GOP on the run. Now is not the time for retreat -- now is the time to strike hard.

Given the conservative push back to McConnell proposal, I tweeted today that it would likely be dead within 24 hours. If I'm wrong (and I am all the time), we will really get the measure of Obama by his response.

UPDATE: Ezra has a thoughtful take on the McConnell plan.

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