On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) proposed an unusual solution to the lack of bipartisan support for raising the debt limit.
“In the end, the White House gave us three choices in exchange for a vote to increase the debt limit: A massive tax hike, smoke and mirrors, or default. And none of these options is acceptable. So yesterday, I proposed a possible fourth option,” McConnell said, explaining his plan on Wednesday.
“If the White House continues to insist on either tax hikes or default, then we’d send legislation to the President that requires him to propose spending cuts greater than the debt limit increase he requests. Make the President show in black and white the specific cuts he claims to support. If he refuses, he’ll have to raise the debt limit on his own.”
The McConnell plan would give President Barack Obama the unprecedented power to increase the debt limit in increments, up to $2.4 trillion, without Congressional approval for offsetting spending cuts.
“I think Mitch McConnell, frankly, has lost his mind,” Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Thursday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “I would just say, Mitch, honestly, with a straight face, you do a press conference and say, ‘Here’s the solution to the problem: Let’s let the Democrats do it and we want them to do it three times before the next election and it will be OK with us if they do it, as long as we don’t have to touch it.’ And people aren’t ridiculing that?”
Later Thursday, in statements made on the Senate floor, McConnell defended his proposal as preventing the Republicans from “calling a bad deal a good one,” saying, “(w)hat (Democrats) wanted was a deal that purported to lower the debt from $26 trillion to $24 trillion over 10 years, then have us give it the thumbs up and call it a bipartisan victory of fiscal discipline.”
McConnell then said the only way to “get our fiscal house in order” is “with a balanced budget amendment. If the President and Democrats in Congress won’t agree to cut back, let’s force them to. Let’s pass a constitutional amendment that actually requires Congress to live within its means.”