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GOP Divided Over McConnell Debt Plan
Speaking to WHAS-AM radio personality Mandy Connell on Wednesday morning, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., defended his proposal to give President Barack Obama unilateral authority to raise the debt ceiling even if party leaders can’t agree on ways to reduce the debt moving forward. McConnell’s proposal gives the president the power to request increases of up to $2.5 trillion in three separate installments over the next year if they are coupled with larger spending cuts.
The plan is being touted as a “back-up plan” compromise and is being praised by Senate Democrats, however, Stephen F. Hayes, a senior writer at The Weekly Standard, says conservatives aren’t sold on the idea. He reports the plan has no chance of passing the Republican-controlled House and has divided the GOP at-large.
Far worse, in my view, is that the plan isolates House Republicans, it undercuts their (tentative) plan to offer an aggressive debt limit proposal of their own, it turns their principled intransigence from a possible strength to a certain liability, and it virtually ensures that, in the event of default, Republicans — not the White House — will be blamed.
As one might expect, the House Republican reaction to the McConnell plan was almost uniformly negative. “The rank-and-file were ripping him today,” says one House Republican. Although Boehner told Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier that he did not feel undercut by the McConnell proposal, other sources suggest he does. One Republican source tells TWS that House leadership “made it clear that it would be tough sledding in the House and among conservatives, but he wanted to float it anyway.” Asked repeatedly about the McConnell plan, House majority leader Eric Cantor praised the Senate leader and his resolve but noted that it was clear it had little to no chance to passing the House.
McConnell’s proposal ensures that Senate Republicans would not be blamed for any of the economic disruptions that would accompany a default — or those caused by the White House in advance of a default. But it also virtually ensures that House Republicans would be.
McConnell told WHAS-AM he will visit the White House Wednesday afternoon to brief the Obama administration on his plan.
The White House has praised McConnell’s proposal for affirming that “defaulting on America’s past-due bills is not an option,” but reiterated party leaders should still try to find long-term solution on the nation’s debt.