On Calling Obama’s Bluff

by Rich Lowry

I have a column today making  some of the same points I’ve made in here the last few days (an enticing tease I know!). I talk about the McConnell option, but just wanted to emphasize something. You still hear people say the McConnell option “puts it all on Obama.” This just isn’t true: When you conceive of and support a way for the president to increase the debt ceiling, you are not putting it all on him. Because Republicans have stopping power in the Senate and the majority in the House, there is no way for them to evade ultimate responsibility for what happens. You can even argue that clever schemes to try to shift the blame make it worse, since it smells of Washington as usual. The House is finally trying to take the initiative with “cut, cap, and balance,” but the hour is late and Republicans have already lost a lot of political altitude to be entering the field with their maximalist policy preference now. I was talking to a conservative senator earlier who calls “cut, cap, and balance” at this point a “Hail Mary.” He believes the entire showdown has been mishandled since Republicans didn’t set out a clear alternative early on around which they could unify and counter President Obama. He believes time is on the president’s side in this debate and is very depressed.

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