Did Republicans Just Give Away the Debt Ceiling Fight?

There's been what appears to be a seismic shift in ye olde debt ceiling developments this afternoon, thanks to the Senate's in-house turtle, Mitch McConnell. We're still waiting to hear the "catch," since Mitch McConnell is a brilliant, mischievous sociopath who ruined much of Obama's first two years in office. But he's released a new proposal this afternoon that looks a lot like, well, caving with a lame attempt to save face.

If you're a Democrat, imagine getting this result after months of horrific concessions: A deal with zero spending cuts, which also transfers debt-ceiling authority from our hostage-taking Congress to the executive branch. Mitch McConnell has proposed this — with a few fake caveats. From The Hill:

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday laid out a plan that puts the responsibility for increasing the debt limit squarely on President Obama.

McConnell has called for Congress to pass legislation authorizing Obama to make successive requests to increase the debt limit.

Under the legislation, Congress could only block those requests by passing resolutions of disapproval, which would have to be supported by two-thirds of both the Senate and House to overcome an expected presidential veto. [...]

The legislation McConnell has proposed would require the president to make three requests to raise the debt limit by approximately $700 billion to $900 billion in three separate tranches between now and Election Day 2012.

The legislation would also require Obama to suggest spending cuts to accompany those increases in the debt limit, but would not require such cuts. The legislation would prohibit Obama from recommending tax increases along with the requests to increase the debt limit.

We should be responsible and think about this for a bit; oh look, we just finished thinking about it: PASS PASS PASS NOW NOW NOW.

The tradeoff is that the onus of raising the debt ceiling would be on Obama, with several checkpoints leading up to the election. Ooooh, scary! The dirty little secret here is that raising the debt ceiling, without any strings attached, is the naturally correct policy, second only to eliminating the debt ceiling altogether. The only reason it's been so politically unpopular is through the endless repetition of unsustainable lies on the campaign trail — that the debt ceiling is only ever increased to finance exotic, new, and wasteful bureaucracies. "I won't raise the debt ceiling" is, objectively, a horrible pledge to make, especially after Congress has already passed the usual appropriations that require such a hike. And since some politicians have, at long last, begun explaining this truth to voters in the past few weeks, support for raising the debt ceiling is suddenly on the rise. It shouldn't be a risky political stance to support raising the debt ceiling. But if Republicans want to keep running on this for the next 16 months, then they're welcome to.

We'll see how far this "contingency plan" gets — why would any House Republican vote for it? — but it's already being given such titles as "The Mother of All Punts." And as far as ultraconservative Republican pundits go... well, Erick Erickson's headline at RedState should suffice: "It Is Time To Burn Mitch McConnell In Effigy. He Goes Pontius Pilate On the Debt Ceiling."

[Image via AP]