"I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting. Most of us didn't think that. What we did learn is this—it's a hostage that's worth ransoming. And it focuses the Congress on something that must be done."
—Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), quoted by the Washington Post, on the debt ceiling negotiations.
There's a bit of insight. McConnell isn't willing to shoot the nation's financial security, but he'll pretend that he will. And he's aware that some of his party are more than happy to do so. But it also signals what he's already promised, that from here on out the debt ceiling will be held hostage.
“Never again will any president, from either party, be allowed to raise the debt ceiling without being held accountable for it by the American people and without having to engage in the kind of debate we’ve just come through,” Mr. McConnell said moments before the Senate vote on the deal he worked out to raise the debt ceiling by $2.1 trillion.
President Obama had argued repeatedly during the last several weeks that holding up a debt ceiling increase amid partisan political bickering was the equivalent of a hostage-taking, with the global economy at stake.
“The debt ceiling should not be something that is used as a gun against the heads of the American people,” the president said.
But Mr. McConnell sees it differently. By his way of thinking, the risk of default was a clarifying kind of moment for lawmakers, who too often refuse to tackle hard problems. (Mr. Obama is often known to agree that lawmakers are too apt to “kick the can down the road” rather than confront difficult issues.)[...]
[I]n the long term, it may be impossible for Washington to put the debt ceiling genie back in the bottle.
Why? Because in the end, hostage-taking works.
Yes, Mitch McConnell is an economic terrorist. Rule number one for confronting terrorists: don't negotiate with them. There was an alternative in this instance, and there will be in the future, too. The 14th Amendment should not have been taken off the table this time. It has to be an option for the president next time.