In the Arena

Accept McConnell’s Debt Ceiling Deal

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Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Mitch McConnell proposes simply raising the debt ceiling. This is supposed to be some sort of brilliant political move. Obama will be blamed for the ever-increasing debt ceiling. The Republicans will be able to hammer him with it in 2012.

Utter nonsense, all of it. McConnell is being too clever by about 300%. The President should accept the offer and get on with his business. Why?

Because no one–and I mean no one–in actual America gives a fig about the debt ceiling. It’s never been an issue in the past. It was raised routinely by President after President and passed by Congress after Congress, with some carping from deficit nuts and those hoping to score political points (yes, that means you, Mr. President). If McConnell thinks he can make this abstruse bit of fiscal manipulation into a Major National Issue, he’s been in Washington too long.

In fact, let me just go all the way here: Most people don’t care about the deficit, much less the debt ceiling. They care about jobs and the economy–which is the real advantage Republicans have in the coming campaign.

If McConnell actually proposes to pull an Emily Littella and say “Never mind” about the debt ceiling, the President can pocket this inadvertent gesture of sanity, sign the debt ceiling extension…and then come right back with an economic package reducing the deficit $2.4 trillion over the next ten years, including the budget cuts that both sides have agreed upon plus the loophole closing revenue raisers–corporate jets, oil and ethanol subsidies, and hedge fund manager tax breaks–that 80% of the American people favor. Let the Republicans vote that one down, or refuse to consider it at all in the House of Representatives. Barack Obama would have a lovely issue to run on.

But I don’t believe for a moment that McConnell is going to do this. He’s desperate, facing a deal that either includes revenue increases or doesn’t happen at all. He’s blinking as fast as he can.