“Republicans’ position is simple,” wrote the Senate minority leader in a public letter to President Joe Biden on Monday. “We have no list of demands. For two and a half months, we have simply warned that since your party wishes to govern alone, it must handle the debt limit alone as well.”
Biden stormed against that view Monday afternoon, insisting that Republican recalcitrance at helping to pay for debts rung up under former President Donald Trump was the height of irresponsibility.
“Republicans say they will not do their part to avoid this needless calamity,” Biden said. “So be it. But they need to stop playing Russian roulette with the US economy.”
And Biden — rightly — noted that Democrats had voted with Republicans several times during the Trump years to raise the debt limit.
So what is McConnell doing? Simple: playing politics.
McConnell knows — he’s a very smart dude — that his party’s current stance on the debt limit is utterly hypocritical.
But what he’s betting on is this: Democrats control the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Knowing that, voters will put blame on Democrats if the debt ceiling isn’t raised.
That’s the calculation McConnell is making — that complete opposition to anything and everything that happens in Washington between now and November 2022 will best position Republicans to retake the House and Senate majorities.
What McConnell is banking on is that total Democratic ownership of power up and down Pennsylvania Avenue means that they have to answer for every single negative thing that comes out of the nation’s capital — from the social safety net legislation to the debt ceiling.
The Point: Cynical? Yes. Purely political? Yes. But, as is often the case with McConnell, also potentially very effective in terms of election outcomes.