The $2 billion Kentucky Kickback is not the only treat in McConnell’s bag of Halloween tricks. The final deal to sell out the American people with Obamacare and perennial debt includes a hallmark of the 2011 McConnell debt ceiling plan.
Section 1002 of the bill provides for McConnell’s infamous resolution of disapproval. Basically, within three weeks of the President’s official request for a debt limit increase (until Feb 7, 2014 in this case), Congress can force a vote to disapprove of the request. There’s one problem, though. That resolution must pass with 2/3ds majorities in both houses.
So why slip in a vacuous resolution of disapproval if they are granting Obama the authority to raise the debt ceiling?
It’s what we call press release conservatism. In three weeks from now, when everyone has forgotten the showdown, McConnell and his buddies will be able to send out press releases saying how they are fighting against Obama’s reckless requests to raise the debt ceiling. A few of these guys might throw in a campaign ad for good measure.
Moreover, this will start a dangerous precedent in which the debt ceiling is meaningless and future increases will sail through Congress as long as members can cower behind a press release vote.
Folks, there are few men and women of courage in Washington. The Senate is particularly bad. Although the House GOP Conference is far from perfect, this past battle has shown that the Senate GOPers are rotten to the core. Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer ostensibly have an 80-20 governing majority. And that is being charitable. At least half of the 18 no votes last night were from individuals who have either publicly or privately opposed this fight every step of the way. Many of them wanted a ceremonial press release vote.
After losing much of the past century to the progressives, we need to ask ourselves if press release conservatism is working for us.