The Corner

Ezra Klein Is Loving It

Senator McConnell’s debt-ceiling deal, that is:

The debt deal Mitch McConnell is offering is confusing a lot of people, so here’s the core of it: Until now, Republicans have wanted a policy payoff for permitting President Obama and the Democrats to raise the debt ceiling. McConnell is proposing to replace that with a political payoff. That’s it. That’s the deal. The question is why House Republicans would go for it.

The process McConnell is proposing would go like this: First, Obama would submit a request for a $700 billion increase in the debt ceiling, along with a nonbinding proposal to cut spending. That would automatically trigger a $100 billion increase in the debt ceiling to give Congress time to consider the request. Congress could then vote to either approve or disapprove of the president’s request. If they disapprove of it, however, Obama could veto their disapproval, and unless two-thirds of both chambers voted to overturn his veto — a virtually unthinkable outcome given that Democrats control the Senate — he could raise the debt ceiling anyway…

My guess is McConnell is about to suffer a serious backlash from his base. As much as the Senate minority leader’s political incentives might differ from those of the speaker of the House, his ideological incentives are supposed to be the same. And if you believe, as most Republicans do, that the debt ceiling offers a generational opportunity to extract huge concessions from the Democrats, then walking away from that leverage simply isn’t an option, and any member of the Republican leadership who proposes to do so has to be seen as intensely suspect.

Ya think?

Michael Walsh — Mr. Walsh is the author of the novels Hostile Intent and Early Warning and, writing as frequent NRO contributor David Kahane, Rules for Radical Conservatives.


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