Just last week, administration officials floated the idea of (mis)using the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling apart from Congress. McConnell, visibly nervous after Obama threatened to withhold Social Security checks and military pay if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling, concocted a convoluted compromise that would give Obama precisely the power to ignore Congress under most circumstances.
McConnell’s backup plan would have Obama tell Congress when he would add to public indebtedness, and only a veto-proof majority of both houses of Congress could tell him no. Obama would split his nearly $2.5 trillion debt request into three parts, which he would propose separately between now and next June. Each time, his request would become law unless Congress denied the authorization by a super-majority of more than two-thirds.
Incredibly, an opposition leader in the legislative branch has introduced a bill that allows a president to appropriate funds automatically unless Congress vetoes him.
Although McConnell publicly presented the plan, The Hill reports other Republican senators supporting it include Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Jon Kyl of Arizona, and John Barrasso of Wyoming.
The Founding Fathers, on the other hand, would not have been keen on the idea. The Constitution specifically states all spending and borrowing must originate in Congress. Rory Cooper of The Heritage Foundation surmised McConnell’s scheme “well might violate the Bicameralism and Presentment Clauses for the making of law, the separation of powers regarding Congress’s control over the budget and spending, the legislative Recommendations Clause, and it might also be struck down as an attempt to grant the President the equivalent of a line-item veto.”
It also feeds the worst instincts of the Obama administration. This author was the first conservative journalist to expose the president’s plan to rule by executive fiat after losing control of Congress. His massive deficit spending threatens our national economic survival. Only 22 percent of the American people support raising the ceiling; fewer still would want to reverse the Constitution in order to do so. And Obama’s political bullying tactics — threatening to kill Red State voters by withholding their checks — will have paid off if McConnell caves.
Backlash has been deservedly severe. FreedomWorks tweeted: “Sen. McConnell thinks cutting spending is too hard. Help him find his spine! Call him at 202-224-2541.”
A “senior GOP staffer” on Capitol Hill described Tea Party reaction on the Hill as “all-out rebellion.” Another GOP House aide asked The Hill rhetorically, “Why would we give the president the power to bypass Congress on this?”
Perhaps most insightful was a comment made by James Valvo, director of government affairs at Americans for Prosperity, who said AFP is “opposed to any deal that abdicates Congress’s constitutional responsibility to authorize any debt it wants the country to issue. Reversing the incentives in order to shield senators and representatives from politically tough decisions is a non-starter.” (Emphasis added.)
Valvo captures the craven state of the inside-the-Beltway GOP, where blame deflection trumps probity, fidelity, or sanity. From McConnell’s point of view, his compromise is a winning solution. It puts the impetus for raising the debt ceiling on Barack Obama. It spares McConnell and Boehner the effort of having to fight the president — and the potential embarrassment of losing in the media (in part because the media are biased toward Obama, in part because they communicate so poorly). Republicans, still a minority in the Senate, can safely vote against the added spending in the knowledge that they will not stop the checks from being issued. And McConnell thinks he can use the carom of these events to become Senate Majority Leader in 18 months.
It should be a career-killing move. L. Brent Bozell correctly replied, “It’s these sort of shenanigans that got Republicans thrown out of power in 2006.”
Some in Congress are providing the leadership we desperately need. Reps. Steve King and Michele Bachmann have introduced a bill to assure the military will still get paid if Congress misses the debt ceiling deadline.
America needs Congressional leaders who will protect those who protect us, not the president who is busy shredding the Constitution they are fighting to defend.