Mitch McConnell’s Peculiar Debt Ceiling Gambit

I was browsing through Steve Benen’s blog today, and it reminded me of something that had me scratching my head yesterday. As you know, Mitch McConnell introduced a bill that would have allowed the president to raise the debt ceiling on his own, leaving Congress out of it. But why?

McConnell assumed that Senate Democrats — at least a big chunk of the caucus, anyway — would balk at Obama’s proposal, so he introduced the plan himself. The point was to have Dems object to McConnell’s effort, so the Minority Leader could get a new talking point: the president’s offer is so offensive that even his own party isn’t willing to support it.

This puzzled me when I first read it, but I didn’t bother blogging about it. So now I will. My question is this: why did McConnell think this in the first place? I can’t think of any compelling reasons that Dems would have balked at his proposal. They certainly don’t want a debt ceiling fight while Obama is president, and they’ve never used the debt ceiling to hold a Republican president hostage. That’s purely a GOP gambit.

So what was McConnell thinking? Does anyone know?