Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is getting tricky in his debt-ceiling strategy. Tuesday afternoon, McConnell proposed a three-stage plan to raise the debt ceiling in the event that President Obama and Congress don't reach an agreement on spending cuts by the August 2 deadline, according to Bloomberg. Referred to as a "last choice option," the plan would permit respective increases of $700 billion, $900 billion, and another $900 billion with the approval of one-third of Congress -- in other words, it would let Democrats vote for additional borrowing.
The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin writes:
McConnell’s plan is the ultimate backstop. If Obama doesn’t get off his tax hikes, McConnell has a plan ready for a vote. Democrats could try to filibuster it, but default would then result. It is time to change the rules of the game, McConnell has decided.
Apparently McConnell wants to create a process where the Congress allows a debt limit vote in tranches, with three votes over the next year-plus, through the 2012 elections. And it would allow all the votes to come from Democrats, because they would simply be upholding a Presidential veto of something like a resolution of disapproval for increasing the debt limit. This is essentially a license for the Administration to increase the debt limit by themselves, with little constraint except a destined-to-fail 2/3 vote.
Dayen adds that House Majority Leader John Boehner called the debt ceiling "Obama's problem" earlier on Tuesday. In a closed gathering of House Republicans, Boehner said he was "pissed" that they hadn't been able to reach an agreement, but according to Politico, he also warned his colleagues "that they will quickly lose leverage in the debate as the country grows closer to the August 2 debt default deadline and Wall Street and business leaders pressure them to cut a deal."