Mitch McConnell is gearing up for a massive battle with Barack Obama over the debt limit. He wrote in a Yahoo op-ed that there is going to be a fight with Obama “whether he wants it or not.” The present $16.4 trillion debt ceiling is the line in the sand for Republicans now; as McConnell wrote,
The president may not want to have a fight about government spending over the next few months, but it’s the fight he is going to have, because it’s a debate the country needs … For the sake of our future, the president must show up to this debate early and convince his party to do something that neither he nor they have been willing to do until now. Over the next two months they need to deliver the same kind of bipartisan resolution to the spending problem we have now achieved on revenue — before the eleventh hour.
Obama is already demagoguing the issue; he said Tuesday, “While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up through the laws that they passed.”
McConnell defended the legislation he worked out dealing with the fiscal cliff, acknowledging that it was an “imperfect solution” but explaining that if the deal hadn’t passed, taxes would have gone up for everyone, instead of just those who made over $450,000 per year:
If I had my way, taxes would not have gone up on anyone, but the unavoidable fact was this — if we had sat back and done nothing, taxes would have gone up dramatically on every single American, and I simply couldn’t allow that to happen. Yet now that the president has gotten his long-sought tax hike on the “rich,” we can finally turn squarely toward the real problem, which is spending. The president likes to say that most Americans support tax hikes on the rich. What he conveniently leaves out is that even more Americans support cuts. That’s the debate the American people really want. It’s a debate Republicans are ready to have. And it’s the debate that starts today, whether the president wants it or not.
This time, the Republicans better mean it; in 2011, their caving on the debt ceiling issue prepared the way for the fiscal cliff scenario. There is no doubt that Obama will not budge; it’s a question of whether the GOP will blink first.