Death by 2 trillion cuts
Everyone's calling this a blink but that's only if you ever believed they were going to balk in the first place:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is proposing a new plan that would give the Republicans everything they want — $2.5 trillion in spending cuts — plus 12 new chances to blame Obama for everything. Under the McConnell plan:
1. Obama would have to request and increase in the debt ceiling along with “a plan to reduce spending by a greater amount.”
2. Ether chamber could pass a “Resolution of Disapproval” blocking the plan. Since the GOP knows they don’t have enough votes in the Senate, this method ensures the House would pass such a resolution, sending it back to the President.
3. Obama would then have an opportunity to veto the resolution.
4. Obama would have to round up enough Democratic votes to avoid the veto from being overridden.
Each of these unnecessary steps would repeated three times giving Republicans a chance to bash Obama on 12 separate occasions, while avoiding any accountability for the debt ceiling increase or spending cuts.
Luke Russert is reporting this as a "clean vote" so perhaps the 2 trillion in spending cuts aren't actually on the table. (Or maybe Russert just sees that as a given, I don't know.) But everything I'm seeing says that the President will have to propose cuts in the amounts equal to each of these debt ceiling hikes.Frankly, I don't see why the President would be hostile to this. This way he gets to be the biggest spending cutter in town over and over again, which the White House seems to see as a major vote getter.
The deal is certainly preferable on policy grounds to gutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in a Grand Bargain. But it isn't clean and it isn't free. It feels like the death by a thousand cuts instead.
On the other hand, Arthur Delaney just tweeted that they may throw in some extended unemployment to make the medicine go down, so that's good. Creating jobs would be better, but that's highly unlikely under this austerity so this is the next best thing.
Update: According to dday, these spending cuts are hypothetical:
Based on this summary from McConnell’s office, it appears that the President would have to write down a plan for spending cuts right away, but they would not be enacted alongside an increase in the debt limit. They would be hypothetical. Rich Lowry says the House reaction is dim to this proposal.
If McConnell's plan could make it through without required spending cuts then it would essentially be a series of clean votes, albeit clumsy, confused and byzantine. And that's a good thing! No wonder the wingnuts are going batshit. (I wonder how the White House sees it.)
Update II: NY Times reports this:
“Mr. McConnell’s proposal would give Mr. Obama sweeping power to increase the government’s borrowing authority, in increments, by up to $2.4 trillion – enough, it is estimated, to cover federal obligations through next year – only if Mr. Obama specifies spending cuts of equal amounts. But Congress would not have to approve the spending cuts prior to the debt-limit increase.”
So it's essentially clean. They think they're trapping the President into proposing unpopular spending cuts and the Democrats into raising the unpopular debt ceiling. I think that's deluded. The President isn't exactly fighting spending cuts and the Democrats aren't fighting raising the debt ceiling. It's just a Get Out Of Tea card for the Republicans and a chicken sandwich for some centrist Dems. Something for everybody.