debt limit

McConnell Strikes Convoluted Deal to Let Democrats Avoid a Debt Default

To give the devil his due, Mitch McConnell has outdone himself with his latest debt limit maneuver. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

It’s a well-established fact that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is so crooked he could eat soup with a corkscrew. And by that I don’t mean he is guilty of criminal misconduct (so far as I know) but simply that he is relentlessly devious. The latest example of his bent nature is unfolding right now as he devises a convoluted procedure for dealing with an impending debt default, as Politico reports (with or without unpublished chortling):

At a party leadership meeting on Tuesday, McConnell pitched his lieutenants on a convoluted strategy that would require at least 10 Republicans to approve legislation that would later allow Senate Democrats to raise the debt ceiling by a simple majority vote. Though Republicans would still be facilitating an easier debt ceiling increase for Democrats by carving out an exception to the Senate’s supermajority requirement, it’s increasingly likely enough Republicans view it as the least-bad scenario.

Take Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). He rebuffed efforts Monday to tie a debt ceiling increase to the annual defense bill, but he can live with a separate effort that — once it breaks a GOP filibuster — would allow Democrats to raise the debt ceiling without any GOP help.

CNN now reports it’s a done deal, with McConnell and Schumer both signing off on the loop-the-loop evasion of a straight debt-limit vote and Nancy Pelosi ready to whip the legislature allowing a 51-senator vote on an actual debt-limit increase through her chamber. Presumably, House Republicans will yell and scream about the stratagem as though their own party didn’t invent it.

You get the sense that once McConnell came up with this utterly phony way of disclaiming Republican support for an essential if unpopular debt-limit increase, he didn’t much care what happened. The ultimate measure will boost the debt limit (officially due to be breached on December 15, though some experts think the Treasury could keep paying bills into January) sufficiently that the subject would not come up again prior to the 2022 midterms. This will make the business community and its wealthy grandees — McConnell’s chief clientele, after all — feel all warm and cuddly inside, with an entirely stupid self-induced global economic collapse off the table for a while.

Authority to utilize the weird “fast-track” process the deal created for a simple majority vote on this particular debt-limit measure expires on January 15. Probably both parties hope it will be forgotten before long. But McConnell’s fingerprints on the deal certainly won’t keep Republicans from agitating during the midterms about those godless socialistic Democrats running up untold trillions in debt in order to kill babies, stuff illegal aliens full of welfare benefits, and replace white people with minorities. That most of the debt we are talking about was actually incurred during Trump’s presidency won’t be mentioned by Republicans, any more than they will acknowledge that Mitch McConnell figured out how to pay for it behind the scenes.

McConnell Strikes Deal to Let Democrats Avoid a Debt Default