Clean McConnell

July 14th, 2011 at 9:48 am

Note this, from this AM’s WaPo:

“Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) is working with McConnell on this approach. Aides said the two are discussing a strategy that would pair McConnell’s debt-limit proposal with at least $1.5 trillion in spending cuts identified through bipartisan talks that Vice President Biden has led in recent weeks.”

Recall that Republican Senate Leader McConnell has a plan to allow the president to raise the debt limit without binding spending cuts—he has to recommend them, then Congress gets to vote on them.

While this may be a (cynical and convoluted) way to avoid default, House Republicans don’t like it because they want binding spending cuts—and, of course, no revenues (other R’s like the McConnell plan because they can vote against the higher ceiling but since they won’t have the votes to veto the president’s request, it will still go up, but without their fingerprints…not exactly bravery in battle, but there it is.)

So what I take from the quote above—and I’m not sure I’m right—is that Sens Reid and McConnell are considering attaching $1.5 trillion in binding spending cuts to the McConnell deal to get the House R’s on the deal.

I say: don’t go there.

If we must have McConnell, it should be “clean McConnell.”  To attach spending cuts with no revenues probably loses Democrat votes and gets you right back in the turgid soup were in already.  Not to mention it’s imbalanced, lacking the revenue contribution needed to offset deep spending cuts that have the potential to do a lot more harm than good.

You could get whiplash trying to follow the twists and turns of this crazy debate.  But stay tuned and I’ll try to sort this out throughout the day.

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11 comments in reply to "Clean McConnell"

  1. foosion says:

    Agreed. If we must have binding spending cuts, I’d much prefer binding spending cuts that kick in when GDP growth is above x% and unemployment is below y%.

    Whatever we do, we’ll have to re-fight the battles for next year’s budget in a few months.


  2. Observer says:

    Actions like Reid’s is precisely the reason the country is at this hideous juncture. Democrats have cowered from taking positions the country supports because of a physical condition called no spine syndrome. Country was with them on handguns. Democrats feared the gun lobby. Country was with them on taxes. Democrats feared the mention of taxes in campaigns. Issue after issue Democrats have had the country behind and they’ve been too cowardly to take their own side in a fight. Each of them are little Neville Chamberlain’s enabling the fascist uprising. And so we’ve gotten to this point. Reid is further enabling the hostage takers. Disgusting.


  3. Southern Beale says:

    To attach spending cuts with no revenues probably loses Democrat votes…

    Oh for crying out loud! In the name of all that is holy it’s DemocratIC not Democrat!

    Nothing angers me more than when the left internalizes the Frank Luntz-approved right wing linguistic nonsense. I’m a Democrat, and it’s the DemocratIC Party and if you’re looking for votes you’re looking for DemocratIC ones.

    Cut it out.


  4. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Well, fortunately, I do not run the world.

    But if I had to choose between one more b.s., gimmicky, convoluted piece of horse trading that would later be used to blameBlameBlame, or the other dreadful option – higher interest rates cascading down a whole host of linked bonds – at this point, I’d pay the higher interest.

    The politicized, dishonest, overly complex, hyper-politicized threats and hostage taking are simply creating constant turmoil, constant craziness, and too much energy wasted on trivial, unproductive topics. IMVHO, it is inexcusably unproductive.

    It may be that we’ve come to a point where too many ideologues in DC actually don’t know how to compromise, where people like Cantor are so opportunistic and short-term in their thinking that the logical result is either continuing to let them hold us all hostage to their egotistical demands — or else break that cycle of constant threats by letting things implode and saying, “Well done, fools. Now we all get stuck with higher interest and a lower bond rating. So please explain to all of us what you accomplished with your intransigence. Apparently, you are enthralled with playing ‘chicken’, and you operated in some kind of delusional belief that cars never go off the cliff.”

    Beyond pathetic.

    The constant crisis mode and posturing has to stop.
    Anyone who hates America must be licking their chops when the see the constant preening and wheedling that we see out of D.C.

    It amazes me that the business leaders aren’t starting to publicly raise holy hell over this debt-ceiling lunacy.


  5. Rob says:

    Why is chicken the appropriate game form? From my observations, there are no pure strategy equilibrium and McConnell’s proposal makes me think he’s smart enough to realize the House Tea types have turned this into matching pennies…


  6. Fred Donaldson says:

    You might add that the Reid “deal” would create another Catfood Commission, one that would require an up or down vote by Congress – cover for the Peter Peterson Foundation cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

    This would effectively further increase our lack of “competitiveness” with other developed countries who provide low cost health care for the elderly and everyone else, as well as 60% or more retirment, compared to the lousy average 30% Americans get.

    Putting us into a Third World society is somehow intellectualy noble for elites living in gated communities and sending their kids to private schools for $30 grand each – about the total wage of the median worker in the U.S.

    Our best and brightest are looking to moving elsewhere – “horrible” places like Germany with its mandated six weeks vacation, free childcare, tuition, nursing homes and paid maternity leave.

    And they have money in Europe for new bridges, 200 mph trains, and public spaaces and facilities. But the disparity between the rich class and the rest is nowhere near what we have here.


  7. Frank M says:

    Jared: good job on CNBC today (7/14) Anyone have any comments on this:
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-14/too-much-debt-means-economy-can-t-grow-commentary-by-reinhart-and-rogoff.html

    Obviously they’ve written on this extensively elsewhere. This article IMO raises straw men, it’s one thing to say, as they do, that excessive levels of debt can be harmful, but they seem to imply that this justifies austerity now, and they argue against “another round of massive stimulus” which, 1. few are arguing for, and 2. was never really tried.


  8. Lee A. Arnold says:

    The President holds all the cards. He should not fold by accepting McConnell’s attempt to save the GOP leadership’s skins. That would be an endless legislative disaster; nobody would ever believe another thing the President says; and he would surely lose the next election.

    McConnell and Boehner should be given the choice of either splitting the GOP from within by whipping the House into line, or else destroying the GOP brand with the voters by not raising the ceiling — a disaster that would probably last only 24 hours and a short market dip, until reality hits the Tea Party right between the eyes.


  9. Mary says:

    “If we must have McConnell, it should be ‘clean McConnell.’ To attach spending cuts with no revenues probably loses Democrat votes and gets you right back in the turgid soup were in already. Not to mention it’s imbalanced, lacking the revenue contribution needed to offset deep spending cuts that have the potential to do a lot more harm than good.” – Absolutely.

    I honestly have no idea what the Dems are trying to do. There doesn’t seem to be a strategy…. They haven’t seem to have had one for a long time.

    I consider myself a pretty genuine and honest person, but I’m also not gullible. The Dems to me are being manipulated. These are some observations.

    First: The pundits (who annoy me to no end) have been suggesting that Cantor is holding up the negotiations. I see it differently. I see him and Boehner playing good cop, bad cop. The pundits like to suggest that there is some competition between the two. I haven’t been following the negotiations, just caught up recently, but my impression is that there is more coordination in the R’s strategy than the pundits give them credit for. The McConnell plan is different. I think that’s just good old fashioned political chicanery that I would willingly embrace as long as it works because really we should just be raising the debt ceiling with no stipulations. Why Obama thinks the “Grand Bargain” is something worthy of his effort and thin political capital at this time is truly beyond me.

    Second: The Dems really need to spend some time doing some economic soul searching and find their inner Keynes. I know it’s there. I know they can find it. This floundering about with their economic vision, or lack thereof, has been a disaster for the country, not to mention, completely exasperating for their supporters. The Dems need to nail down the economics, stop parroting the inane policies of the opposition who want nothing better than to destroy the Dems via economic failure. I am a naturally cynical person, but really, how much of a schmuck can people be!

    Third: Obama is a good person, but he needs to become a good politician. He should never have taken Boehner’s word during the tax cut extension (which I opposed vehemently by the way). In my opinion, the disastrous negotiations started there. Obama needs to view negotiations as a chess game and think several steps ahead, and aim to win. Cory Booker recently delivered one of the most depressing and nauseating soliloquies on “compromise” I have ever heard. No matter what they say, Americans don’t care about compromise or deficits. They care about winning, globally and individually. Right now, the losers in Congress are potentially putting the best credit rating in the world at risk because phantom problems have become more important than real ones. Obama needs to understand that leadership is not really about compromise; it’s really about conviction and convincing. You sell your idea so well that the opposition (or the confused and ignorant American people) thinks it was theirs. Sounds familiar, right?


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