The Learning Curve

New tricks for an old dog.

The buck doesn’t stop here any more

The Senior Senator from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell, said a bipartisan budget-cutting deal is probably out of reach, making it unlikely that Republicans would approve an increase in the government’s debt limit by Aug. 2. To prevent default, McConnell proposed that Congress empower President Obama to unilaterally raise the government’s borrowing limit if he offsets any increase in total debt with cuts in previously budgeted spending items. The President would be allowed to decide  all the specifics without obtaining Congressional approval by means of the normal legislative process.

Senator McConnell  reportedly stated, “I have little question that as long as this president is in the Oval Office, a real solution is unattainable,” but that Republicans will, “do the responsible thing and ensure the government doesn’t default on its obligations.

At first glance it seems that Senator McConnell’s suggestion combines a delegation to the President of Article I, Section 8 power of Congress “To borrow Money on the credit of the United States,” along with the unilateral power to selectively abrogate previously enacted budget expenditures.

It is a tad bit strange that the Senate Republican Majority Leader would be willing to cede so much Constitutional power to a Democratic President that he likes so little. Sen. McConnell also recently affirmed that defeating Obama in 2012 is his party’s “single most important” goal. But, given all that, a vague and unofficial White House response quickly agreed with Senator McConnell’s proposal. The unilateral power to borrow money and trim budget fat without Congressional input must have seemed very attractive to the President.

The battle in my mind is about how to categorize Sen. McConnell’s suggestion among the following:

  • An inventive practical solution  to side-step an  impasse of the Republican’s  own obstinate creation. This is simply an admission by Republicans that they have painted themselves into a corner and can’t get out, or;
  • A novel and radical delegation of Constitutional power from the Legislative to the Executive. This amounts to a confession by Republicans that their expressed love and respect for tradition and the clear language of the Constitution is just empty talk,  or;
  • A politically motivated shirking  of responsibility by playing pin the tail on the donkey. This assumes that shirking the responsibilities of elected office can ever be shrewd,  that they can get away with it undetected, and that it can be used for political advantage in 2012. All this seems doubtful.
  • Or, Senator McConnell was just showboating.  “What’s the use of appearances if you can’t create false ones?”

Written by Tom Fox

07/12/2011 at 11:19 pm

Posted in Politics

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