The proposal to end the impasse over the federal debt ceiling offered by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Tuesday would effectively shift the entire responsibility of the issue to President Obama. The proposal would require Obama to identify trillions of dollars in budget cuts and prohibit him from raising taxes on upper-income Americans as Democrats would like.

Despite those less-than-ideal circumstances, should he take the deal anyway?

McConnell’s proposal would create a new legal structure authorizing the president to raise the debt limit by as much as $2.5 trillion in three installments, but would require him to submit to Congress a request for an increase, along with a list of proposed spending cuts equal to the increase. The debt limit would be increased unless Congress not only passed a resolution disapproving of the increase but also had a two-thirds majority in both houses to override a presidential veto of the resolution.

Agreeing to the proposal would likely end any chance of Obama crafting a comprehensive deficit reduction deal that would be a boon to the president’s 2012 prospects, but it would show him tackling a major problem in a bipartisan manner and make it hard for Republicans to cast him as a big spender. McConnell’s plan would require Obama to list proposed spending hikes, but disallows tax increases, which the president has said should be enacted to help balance the budget.

At the same time, Obama would avert cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits that were part of the proposed broader agreement, but strongly opposed by many Democrats. And Obama would only have to propose budget cuts; there is no guarantee they would actually be enacted by Congress.

Accepting the deal would allow Obama to stop talking about an issue in which the president simply hasn’t sold the public on his position. Despite the rhetoric from Obama and even many Republicans about the dangers of a government default, polls show a plurality of Americans, including many Democrats, don’t support raising the debt limit.


Fact Checker: Will Obama be able to keep paying Social Security benefits if the debt ceiling is reached?

Fast Fix: Will we hit the debt ceiling?

The door is open for Rick Perry