Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—still in a cold sweat over the possibility that House Republicans could doom the GOP in 2024—is trying everything possible to keep the House bomb-throwers from sinking the entire party.
During a Tuesday press conference, McConnell once again sent his House counterpart, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, thoughts and prayers before issuing marching orders: The next step on the debt ceiling was for the House to deliver a bill.
"I wish him well," McConnell said. "But I think the American people need to know, there's not going to be a default. Not going to be a default."
Just putting it out there—not once, but twice. No default, Kev.
McConnell has actually been wish-casting good outcomes on McCarthy—and the Senate GOP caucus, by extension—ever since he won the speakership in early January by folding to the maniacs.
In mid-January, McConnell said of McCarthy, "I’m pulling for him. I think he was the right guy for the job. And I’m hoping it’s going to settle down & work out well.”
A week later, McConnell was getting more specific about his desired outcomes.
“Periodically the debt ceiling has to be lifted and it’s always a rather contentious effort,” McConnell told reporters on Jan. 23, as if “both sides” threaten to detonate the economy. (Democrats don't—it has exclusively been a GOP innovation within the last decade or so.)
But after jingling his keys for the press corps, McConnell delivered what he surely hoped to be marching orders: “In the end, I think the important thing to remember is that America must never default on its debt. It never has and never will.”
Never, never, never. Apparently, McConnell has a repetitive tic when he's dealing with people he doesn't think are particularly sharp.
In terms of goals, all of this puts McConnell—weirdly, and for the second time in a week—in perfect alignment with President Joe Biden. The only difference is that Biden, delivering the keynote address Tuesday at the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference, managed to sound a lot less condescending as he urged McCarthy to do basically exactly what McConnell was suggesting.
"I met with the Speaker of the House—he's a decent guy. He's got a tough job," Biden explained, noting that McCarthy's only objective was to cut funding for programs.
"So I suggested," Biden continued, "instead of making threats about the debt ceiling, which would be catastrophic, let's just lay out our budgets."
Similar to McConnell's suggestion, how about you come up with a bill in the House, McCarthy—a proposal, if you will—and we'll compare notes. What a novel idea: House Republicans actually putting pen to paper on a budget proposal rather than starting right out the gate with a threat to bury the global economy.
Last week, Biden and McConnell also found themselves on the same page, taking aim at the plan of Sen. Rick Scott of Florida to cut Social Security and Medicare.
Strange bedfellows, indeed. But in this case, avoiding a debt ceiling default is as politically advantageous for McConnell as it is good for Biden, the country, and the global economy. But rest assured, if it didn’t benefit McConnell, he’d hang the other three out to dry in a New York minute.
President Biden's State of the Union was a masterclass in politics. The Republican Party, like a headless hydra, is unable to find a meaningful policy to get behind. Markos and Kerry talk about the highlights of last week and the enjoyment of watching Senate and House conservatives snipe at one another.