Mitch McConnell’s Peculiar Debt Ceiling Gambit

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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?

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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