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McConnell redefines the ‘grand bargain’

By Ezra Klein,

I’ve previously remarked on the fact that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is, by far, the most honest politician in Washington. He’s got an almost comic book-esque tendency to reveal his true plan to anyone who stops talking long enough to listen. There’s his statement that “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” his comment to Mike Allen that the Republicans are only interested in compromise when “the president is willing to do what I and my members would do anyway,” his admission to Josh Green that “we worked very hard to keep our fingerprints off of these proposals, because we thought — correctly, I think — that the only way the American people would know that a great debate was going on was if the measures were not bipartisan.” You never need to guess at what Senate Republicans are doing. McConnell will just tell you, straight, no chaser.

So it’s worth listening to McConnell comments on the debt-ceiling vote. There will be no tax hikes, he said. But there will be sharp cuts in both agency and entitlement spending. And this is, in his view, a rare opportunity. “If there is a grand bargain of some kind with the president of the United States,” McConnell said, “none of it will be usable for either side in next year’s election — none of it.”

What’s interesting here is the way McConnell has redefined the term “grand bargain.” Typically, a grand bargain is a deal in which Republicans back tax increases and Democrats back spending cuts. But as Steve Benen notes, McConnell is recasting it as a deal wherein Democrats back spending cuts and Republicans don’t destroy the economy. That’s . . . bold. But Democrats can’t say they weren’t warned.

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