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Right Turn
Posted at 01:40 PM ET, 07/12/2011

EXCLUSIVE: McConnell to Obama: Eat your own darn peas

At 2 p.m. today, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) is going to make some news. Right Turn has learned from sources familiar with McConnell’s thinking that McConnell is going to suggest an alternative to President Obama’s “grand bargain.” Rather than continue a rotten deal (immediate tax hikes now in exchange for phantom cuts later), he is going to put out a ”debt disapproval plan.” It works like this: The plan “would give the President the ability to request smaller increases in the debt ceiling — coupled with proposed spending cuts of at least $2.5 trillion over the next year. It would provide for up to three separate sets of votes on a resolution disapproving of the increase — one later this month, the second in the fall of 2011 and the third in the summer of 2012. The plan is modeled on the 1996 Congressional Review Act, which established expedited procedures by which Congress may disapprove agencies’ rules by enacting a joint resolution of disapproval.” The first set of votes would avoid the current default danger and ask the president for a $700 billion increase in the debt ceiling; two subsequent requests would be for $900 billion increases. More details to follow.

All of this was set up by a barn-burner of a speech delivered by McConnell Tuesday on the Senate floor. His remarks are worth reading in full, but a few portions are especially noteworthy. He argues:

For more than two years now, Republicans in Washington have stood united in the belief that America would never recover from the economic crisis that struck our nation three years ago, so long as some in Washington persisted in the mistaken belief that government had the cure.
“For most clear-eyed observers, that view has found its clearest vindication in the daily drumbeat of news about lost jobs, shuttered businesses, and slumping home values; and in the stories that each of us hears from our constituents about the economic hardships that they continue to face.
“If anyone was still looking for proof that the President’s economic policies have been a failure, they don’t have to look any further than the morning papers or their constituent mail.”

He therefore has no interest in a deal that further hampers the economy:

“Incredibly, for those of us who had been calling for action on this issue day in and day out for about two years, the President tried to put the burden on us. With the nation edging closer to the debt limit deadline, the President retreated behind the poll-tested rhetoric of class warfare.
“At a moment when we needed leadership the most, we got the least. The financial security of the nation was being gambled on the President’s wager that he could convince people our problems would be solved if we just all agreed to take it out on the guy in the fancy house down the street.
“In my view, that was the saddest commentary on the status of the leadership at the White House.
“And I’m proud of the fact that Republicans refused to play along.
“We stood our ground. We know that what Americans need right now is for government to make job creation easier, not harder. And we said so. At a time when 14 million Americans are looking for work, we refused to support a tax hike. We supported jobs and economic growth instead.
For more than two years now, Republicans in Washington have stood united in the belief that America would never recover from the economic crisis that struck our nation three years ago, so long as some in Washington persisted in the mistaken belief that government had the cure.

As for the grand deal, he tells Obama he can forget it if it includes tax hikes:

“They asked us to join them in another Washington effort to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people. They offered us the opportunity to participate in the kind of deliberate deception of the public that has given public service such a bad name in recent years.
“We all saw how it worked. The Administration carefully leaked to the media, without any details, the idea that it was willing to go along with trillions of dollars in spending cuts.
“The lack of detail concealed the fact that the savings they were supposedly willing to support was at best smoke and mirrors. The hope here was that the budget gimmicks and deferred decision-making they actually supported would have the appearance of serious belt-tightening.
“But the practical effect would have been at most about a couple of billion dollars in cuts up front with empty promises of more to follow. We’ve seen this kind of thing before. It’s just this kind of sleight of hand governing that’s put our nation more than $14 trillion in debt. And I will not associate myself with it. I refuse to join in an effort to fool the American people.

McConnell is not known for his fiery rhetoric. But plainly, the White House shenanigans have aggravated, if not angered, him. He does a service to his own side and to the national debate by refusing to fuzz up the issues: “We will not pretend that a bad deal is a good one.” He laid out the options: “If you think that the federal government isn’t big enough, then the only responsible thing to do is to support higher taxes. For those who are honest about that, I appreciate their candor. But for those of us who don’t think the federal government should be in charge of banks, the auto industry, the housing business, the student loan business, health care and regulating everything else under the sun, we’re not about to further enable that model of government by shaking down the American people for more money at a time when they can least afford it.”

McConnell’s plan is the ultimate backstop. If Obama doesn’t get off his tax hikes, McConnell has a plan ready for a vote. Democrats could try to filibuster it, but default would then result. It is time to change the rules of the game, McConnell has decided. Let’s see what happens.

By  |  01:40 PM ET, 07/12/2011

Categories:  2012 campaign, Budget, Senate Republicans

 
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