McConnell plan would be a bailout for endangered Dems 

I've written a number of posts criticizing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's "last resort" proposal for raising the debt ceiling, which I see as a legislative gimmick being used to escape responsibility. It would allow Republicans to effectively vote to raise the debt limit while claiming they voted against it. Yet it's also worth noting that if the GOP is going to seek shelter under the McConnell proposal, so, too, could endangered Democrats.

The idea behind the McConnell proposal is that it would allow Congress to vote on a resolution disapproving of a proposed debt ceiling hike, which President Obama would then veto, but then it would presumably be sustained by just over one-third of the members in each chamber of Congress, thus giving Obama the increase he seeks. Given that Obama would only need 146 votes in the House and 34 votes in the Senate to sustain the veto, it would free up vulnerable Democrats from tough votes.

That would be a gift to Democratic Sens. such as Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and so on, who would be able to say during their campaigns that they did not vote to raise the debt limit.

With time winding down, some form of the McConnell plan coupled with spending cuts may be the end game. But Republicans who think this is a great way to shift blame to the other side may soon find out that they aren't the only ones using the procedural gimmick to their advantage.

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Philip Klein

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