McConnell plan is IPAB of debt limit options 

Normally I fully endorse pretty much anything Keith Hennessey says about budgets and spending, but his write up of the McConnell Debt Hike is not up to hi usual standards. Here's his pitch for the McConnell plan:

The McConnell bill does not increase the debt limit. It authorizes the President to increase the debt limit, as long as Congress doesn’t prevent him from doing so. Thus, you as a Member of Congress could vote for the McConnell bill, then vote for the subsequent resolutions of disapproval, and honestly say that you never voted to raise the debt limit. …This political logic is core to the proposal.

Finding a way for Members to both vote for the McConnell bill and then claim they never voted to raise the debt limit may be the core “political logic” of the McConnell plan, but it is also pure nonsense; the exact same kind of nonsense that Democrats deployed to pass Obamacare.

Just look at Obamacare’s signature mechanism for reducing Medicare costs: the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Obama’s health care bill did not ration Medicare directly, just like the McConnell plan doesn’t raise the debt limit directly, it just granted the 15-member IPAB the authority to ration Medicare in the future. Unless conservatives are willing to concede that a vote for Obamacare was not a vote to ration health care, then they should not be arguing that a vote for McConnell’s plan is not a vote to raise the debt limit.

A key assumption of the McConnell plan, is that the House is incapable of passing any debt limit hike. “I don’t think any debt limit proposal could pass the House today,” Hennessey writes. That assumption will be tested this week when the House takes up the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act. The bill would cut $111 billion in fiscal 2012, cap spending at 18 percent of gross domestic product by 2021, ensure a vote on a balanced budget amendment, and raise the debt limit by $2.4 trillion.

If the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act fails, then it may be time for conservatives to cut their losses and consider the McConnell plan (at least it doesn’t raise taxes). But if the House does pass the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act (which is supported by conservative stalwarts like Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and the House Republican Study Committee), there is no reason that it should not become the beginning point of any debt limit plan.

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Conn Carroll

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