Although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has gummed up the works a bit by saddling it with a mind-numbingly ludicrous $1.5 trillion in spending cuts and yet another blue-ribbon commission or three, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) heroic solution to getting Washington past its unconscionable hostage holding of the nation's debt ceiling remained the safe harbor around which politicians of all stripes posed and postured and ranted and raved.
Unless the federal government raises its $14.3 credit limit by Aug. 2, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has warned one and all that come Aug. 3, the United States would no longer be able to fund operations, pay existing obligations, or send out the 55 million Social Security checks piled in the mailroom that morning.
Because no one in Washington had the stomach to raise the debt ceiling without first doing the hoochy-coochy and juggling flaming torches and eating all the ice cream at Ben and Jerry's, McConnell came up with the brilliant solution of letting everyone vote against raising the debt ceiling. Then, all President Barack Obama would have to do is veto Congress's law preventing the debt ceiling hike, and, barring a two-thirds veto-overriding vote, everyone could go home to their dancing and juggling and shovelling mounds of Cherry Garcia into their cakeholes.
Everyone around the Beltway breathed an enormous collective sigh of relief, and, solution safely in hand, figured there was still a good deal of garbage time left on the clock to go into full posturing mode.
President Obama stormed out of a meeting, then sternly told everyone they must still find a way of implementing his plan to reduce the federal deficit by $4 trillion over umpteen years with a combination of unconscionable spending cuts and a few piddling tax loophole closures, despite knowing intractable Republicans would never allow a hair to be harmed on the heads of their corporate jet depreciation rates.
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) sought a balanced approach with half spending cuts and half tax hikes, despite knowing that if the President's plan was unacceptable to Republicans, his was a full-blown Biblical anathema.
"If it doesn't solve the policy problem for this country, I'm not going to support it," snivelled Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) on CBS' Face the Nation. Coburn had had his chance at solving the nation's policy problems before walking out of the Gang of Six deficit reduction talks earlier this year, revealing that Sen. Tom Coburn himself was one of the biggest obstacles to solving the nation's policy problems. Coburn said he was unlikely to vote for the McConnell plan, but wouldn't rule it out.
On the same show, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said, "I don't believe this plan, as it's been outlined to me, is a credible solution to our debt problem," entirely missing the point of the plan, which was not to solve the debt problem, but to avoid a government default, shutdown, and catastrophic global cascade failure of the world's financial systems.
"It's like leaving the jail door open and looking the other way, then saying it's not our fault," Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) pontificated nonsensically earlier in the week in voicing his opposition to the McConnell plan.
DeMint and Rubio were Tea Party vassals of Rupert Murdoch, and as the US Justice Department and the FBI were just getting started turning over rocks at Murdoch's News Corporation, they were understandably eager to do anything to prevent a debt ceiling hike, cause a government shutdown, and stop any inquiry into their Lord's nefarious doings.
House Republicans also howled there was no way they would support the McConnell plan, all but calling the good Senator a dirty von Stauffenberg for betraying the Reich and trying to assassinate Hitler.
"The McConnell plan doesn't have 218 Republican votes," Rep. Jim Jordon (R-OH) on Fox News Sunday stated the glaringly obvious, as McConnell's plan didn't include pointing the Death Star at the Earth and pulling the trigger, which seemed to be the bottom line for the Ayn Randian sociopaths of the Tea Party persuasion.
Jordon, however, had to admit there were probably enough votes for the measure if you included Democrats. "Who knows if there's a combination of Rs and Ds will go for it," he said, his caucus being astonishingly bad at counting votes. Well, apparently, you only cover Bible verses and Ku Klux Klan bylaws when you're home-schooled.
Nancy Pelosi had 193 Democratic votes at her disposal in the US House of Representatives, making the magic number for House Republicans something on the order of 25, or 24, considering Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had expressed interest in the measure.
As long as people were stating the glaringly obvious, Rep. Chris Van Hollern (D-MD) opined, "It's a political answer, not a real answer to the problem." Of course, the real answer would be to reform revenues so the nation's wealthiest 20% wouldn't be devouring 84% of all the nation's wealth, but that would require Murdoch's News Corp empire to collapse and stop funding the Tea Party.
Van Hollern wouldn't rule out voting for the McConnell plan himself, but said he was "working very hard so that it's not our only choice."
McConnell's pal and fellow von Stauffenberg co-conspirator John Kyl (R-AZ), the Senate Minority Whip, laid out the game plan: as Republicans were keen on raising the debt ceiling by passing their ridiculous Cut, Cap and Balance dog-and-pony show, they would be allowed to try doing so, then, when that utterly contemptible waste of perfectly good time and oxygen miserably failed, the way would be cleared for everyone to enact McConnell's plan.
Cut, Cap, and Balance is another of those Republican Pledge devices, and would make everyone eat cold cuts, wear gaudy feathered baseball caps, and balance large, heavy objects on their noses like a seal. Not really, but as it's no more likely to pass than a Constitutional Amendment requiring all Americans to do just those things, we'll let it go at that. BTW, a Constitutional Amendment, which Cut, Cap and Balance includes, needs to be ratified by a whole raft of individual states, and everyone between here and the Large Magellanic Cloud knows that wouldn't get done by Aug. 2 without the temporal dilation machine we won't invent for another 5,000 years.
Nonetheless, because Republicans love Pledges, having gleefully signed pledges about taxes, and marriage, and wiping homosexuals off the face of the Earth, everyone has to wait until the Republicans can caterwaul their little Pledge songs and cavort their little Pledge dances, and generally waste half the garbage time left on the clock. One has to wonder why someone just doesn't give every Republican a case of spray-on furniture polish from S.C. Johnson and Co., and be done with it.
Once the posturing and posing are done, as many nominally sentient beings as Congress can muster would have to vote for what Kyl had taken to calling the "McConnell-Reid" plan, although Reid'd done nothing but add about 1,500,000,000,016 useless gizmos onto a perfectly good McConnell plan, the 1,500,000,000,016 gizmos being $1.5 trillion in cuts that only hurt America, and 16 lawmakers on a commission trying to figure out more ways to hurt America.
"That's what the Senate is proceeding with," Kyl told ABC's This Week.