by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A dozen years ago, I sat in a strategy meeting in an ornate suite in the U.S. Capitol. House Democrats were about to bring to the floor a bill that would raise the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars, one element of their plan to ram through Obamacare.
When one person suggested that House Republican leaders rally Tea Party groups to ensure all Republican members oppose the legislation, another aide thought such a move unwise, fearing a whipping operation against the bill would prove ineffective.
The response: “So in other words, your strategy is to lose in the most efficient manner possible.” Which pretty much describes Republican leaders’ perpetual strategy—then, now, and most always.
That mantra explains news reports prior to the Thanksgiving holiday suggesting Senate Republican leaders were working on an arrangement with Democrats, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., that would allow Democrats to raise the debt limit in December for the second time in three months. Most Republican lawmakers want to see the debt limit raised, and are perfectly willing to make it easy for Democrats to increase the limit—so long as Republicans don’t have to take public responsibility for their complicity in this corrupt bargain. …
… Given all these elements—rising debt, strong Republican leverage over the debt limit, and recent history giving Republicans every reason to hold out for legislative concessions—what does McConnell want to do? To judge from the press reports, give Democrats a streamlined process for approving a debt limit increase—without receiving any substantive concessions in response.
But an accelerated process for Democrats to raise the debt limit won’t just affect that issue. The debt limit represents one of the “must-pass” pieces of legislation Congress needs to clear by year’s end—the same deadline Democrats have set to pass the Build Back Bankrupt legislation.