They don't have as big a microphone as the president, but that's no excuse for why the president now has the upper hand in the debt ceiling debate.
The president has left his party in the dust, taking the fight to the Republicans and has presented them with a Hobson's Choice.
Wall Street Journal:
The reality is that Mr. Obama is trying to present Republicans with a Hobson's choice: Either repudiate their campaign pledge by raising taxes, or take the blame for any economic turmoil and government shutdown as the U.S. nears a debt default. In the former case Mr. Obama takes the tax issue off the table and demoralizes the tea party for 2012, and in the latter he makes Republicans share the blame for 9.2% unemployment.
This is the political context in which to understand Mr. McConnell's proposal yesterday to force Mr. Obama to take ownership of any debt-limit increase. If the President still insists on a tax increase, then Republicans will walk away from the talks.
Mr. McConnell would then let the President propose three debt-limit increases adding up to $2.5 trillion over the coming months. Senate Republicans (with Majority Leader Harry Reid's cooperation) would use a convoluted procedure to vote for three resolutions of disapproval on the bills. Mr. Obama could veto the resolutions and 34 Democrats could vote to sustain. The President would get his debt-limit increase, but without Republicans serving as his political wingmen.
Erik Erickson is referring to McConnell as "Pontius Pilate," which is a little extreme but captures the essence of McConnell's perfidy here. Simply giving up on getting massive spending cuts is not an option, and McConnell is far more concerned with the 2012 election than he is with saving us from collapse.
All raising the debt ceiling will do is delay the inevitable. We must cut the budget. We must cut entitlements. We must deal with the deficit and the long term debt that will reach 150% of GDP by the end of the decade. That's worse than the current percentage for Greece, worse than Italy, Ireland, Portugal,and all the Euro nations awash in debt.
Responsible governance demands that McConnell hold the line.