(Presidential historian Doug Wead says, if Obama raises the debt limit on his own, he is “absolutely” impeachable.)
Even as freshman Congressmen passed the Cut, Cap, and Balance proposal last night, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell quietly planned to sell them out. Insiders report McConnell is going through the motions of voting on the House measure but has invested his energy in cutting a deal with Democrats and give Barack Obama unconstitutional and near-dictatorial powers to raise the debt ceiling.
The Hill newspaper exposed the betrayal:
Publicly, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) have made votes on the Cut, Cap and Balance Act and a balanced-budget amendment their priority this week.
But GOP aides say the leaders are already looking past those votes to a potential deal with Democrats to raise the debt limit before an Aug. 2 deadline and spare Republican lawmakers from a political backlash.
“McConnell is going to let cut, cap and balance have its vote and then immediately move to plan B,” said a GOP aide in reference to the fallback debt plan McConnell is negotiating with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
McConnell’s “Plan B” would allow Barack Obama to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling in three portions over the next year. Only a supermajority of more than two-thirds of Congressmen could override him.
The plan is the apparent preference of the inside-the-Beltway crowd, as they have already launched one of their typical campaigns to make it appear “centrist.” On Monday, former president Bill Clinton raised the stakes by stumping for Obama to misuse the 14th Amendment and raise the debt ceiling on his own. Clinton told Joe Conason if he were president, he would raise the debt ceiling “without hesitation, and force the courts to stop me.”
Of course, Clinton wouldn’t — because he had the chance and didn’t. Obama administration officials have backed off the scheme since Republicans credibly warned articles of impeachment would follow. But that kind of rhetoric from a faux centrist president makes the McConnell plan seem undeservedly acceptable.
The same day, California liberal Democrat Dianne Feinstein told MSNBC McConnell’s plan is “the only practical way forward.” Bipartisan support has the same effect.
Tea Party constiutionalists are refusing to take part in the charade. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, has promised to use “use every tool in the Senate” to block the McConnell plan. Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, has stated House freshmen are “not going to support the McConnell plan…The McConnell plan doesn’t have 218 Republican votes” in the House. Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, who recently stared down Chris Matthews, had 50 of his colleagues sign a letter vowing not to bring up the McConnell Plan for a vote “in any form.”
House Democrats are less than enamored of the plan, as well. Minority Leader Steny Hoyer has said his caucus has serious reservations about the proposal, and Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen said McConnell’s plan is more political cowardice than fiscal stewardship. “[I]t is not an adult moment,” he said.
Still, The Hill describes McConnell’s plan as “the most likely option for raising the debt limit before Treasury’s Aug. 2 deadline.”
CNBC recently produced an analysis arguing a credit downgrade will not be the Armageddon critics allege. Americans should hope it is correct. It appears, short of an unconstitutional transfer of authority away from Tea Party Congressmen to President Obama, that is precisely what the future holds.