Mitch McConnell’s Peculiar Debt Ceiling Gambit

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


I was browsing through Steve Benen’s blog today, and it reminded me of something that had me scratching my head yesterday. As you know, Mitch McConnell introduced a bill that would have allowed the president to raise the debt ceiling on his own, leaving Congress out of it. But why?

McConnell assumed that Senate Democrats — at least a big chunk of the caucus, anyway — would balk at Obama’s proposal, so he introduced the plan himself. The point was to have Dems object to McConnell’s effort, so the Minority Leader could get a new talking point: the president’s offer is so offensive that even his own party isn’t willing to support it.

This puzzled me when I first read it, but I didn’t bother blogging about it. So now I will. My question is this: why did McConnell think this in the first place? I can’t think of any compelling reasons that Dems would have balked at his proposal. They certainly don’t want a debt ceiling fight while Obama is president, and they’ve never used the debt ceiling to hold a Republican president hostage. That’s purely a GOP gambit.

So what was McConnell thinking? Does anyone know?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest