Why Mitch McConnell Will Win the Day

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s compromise on the debt ceiling is a win for the President disguised as a win for Republicans. But it really just kicks the can down the road past the 2012 election – which is what almost every sane politician in Washington wants to happen in any event.

McConnell’s plan would allow the President to raise the debt limit. Congressional Republicans could then vote against the action with resolutions of disapproval. But these resolutions would surely be vetoed by the President. And such a veto, like all vetoes, could only be overridden by two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate – which couldn’t possibly happen with the Democrats in the majority in the Senate and having enough votes in the House to block an override.

Get it? The compromise allows Republicans to vote against raising the debt limit without bearing the horrendous consequences of a government default.

No budget cuts. No tax increases. No clear plan for deficit reduction. Nada. The entire, huge, mind-boggling, wildly partisan, intensely ideological, grandly theatrical, game of chicken miraculously vanishes.

Until the 2012 election, that is.

McConnell, like most other Republican leaders, has all along seen the battle over raising the debt ceiling as part of a master plan to unseat Obama. Remember, it was McConnell who openly admitted the GOP’s “top goal is to defeat President Obama in 2012” – a brazen and bizarre statement in the face of the worst economic crisis in seventy years.

The GOP will weave Obama’s decision to raise the debt ceiling into the 2012 presidential campaign –- as well as Senate and House races — so 2012 becomes what they hope will be a referendum on Obama’s “big government.”

McConnell’s compromise will win the day. Expect much grousing from the GOP, especially those who feel they need to posture for the tea party. But McConnell – or something very similar – is the only way out. Obama can’t agree to a budget plan lacking tax increases, especially on the wealthy. Republicans can’t agree to one including them. In Washington, when an immovable object meets an irresistible force, something’s got to give. A compromise that allows both sides to save face is the easiest give of all.

Moreover, as the August 2 deadline approaches, big business and Wall Street (who hold the purse strings for the GOP) are sending Republicans a clear signal: Raise the debt ceiling or capital markets will start getting nervous. And if they get nervous and interest rates start to rise, you guys will be blamed.

Washington insiders will consider the McConnell compromise a win for Obama. But the rest of the country hasn’t been paying much attention and won’t consider it much of a win for either side. Their attention is riveted to the economy, particularly jobs and wages. If those don’t improve, Obama will be a one-term president regardless of how the GOP wants to paint him.

This post originally appeared at Robert Reich’s Blog and is reproduced here with permission.

2 Responses to "Why Mitch McConnell Will Win the Day"

  1. BreezyOhio   July 15, 2011 at 6:38 am

    Excuse my ignorance but if Obama can do this why can he not just draft a real proposal and let congress vote against that? This whole process is just so much shisterism. A total package of tax revenues and cuts and then let the chips fall where they may?

    Also could Obama use the war powers act as a vehicle to raise revenues to "pay for the wars" while enveloping cuts into the same bill. We need to get this thing done and behind us and move on with bigger issues, of which there are many.

  2. BreezyOhio   July 15, 2011 at 6:53 am

    One more thought on this .. you say it's a win for Obama. I clearly do not see it that way. This just inflates the 2012 election to where this becomes the primary election issue. It's a cash cow for republicans to garner funding from all the rich that do not want to see any tax increases, and likewise democrats on social programs. It will be more elevated version of 2010. How does Obama win in that scenario? More importantly how does anyone win other than to say that republicans get one more chance for a reset of Washington while fighting against higher taxes.