There has been one question surrounding Mitch McConnell’s proposed “Plan B” for raising the debt ceiling—giving President Obama the ability to raise the limit on his own, temporarily, so the Republicans would not be held accountable for either a default or the lack of spending cuts in the event a “grand bargain” could not be reached: Could the plan pass the House?
Most of the attention has been focused on what Eric Cantor, who has become the voice of the more conservative House members, will accept. It has been assumed the key to passing McConnell’s plan in the Senate (and perhaps ultimately in the House as well) would be the Democrats’ approval.
But those assuming that made one mistake: they forgot about Jim DeMint. The South Carolina Tea Party favorite just announced via Twitter that he will “use every tool in Senate to stop passage of ‘Plan B’ blank check debt limit increase.”
DeMint rarely makes idle threats, so this is probably the final nail in the coffin of “Plan B.” Though John Boehner sought to downplay divisions within his ranks by saying he and Cantor are “in the foxhole” together, it is really he and McConnell who now find themselves sharing an increasingly empty foxhole.
This will also only amplify the attention on the GOP’s intraparty stress–a troublesome narrative for the GOP leaders. If McConnell needs DeMint’s approval, and Boehner needs Cantor’s, the Republicans and Democrats may be even farther apart on this issue than previously thought.
The New York Times has a story this morning on the ideological battle of which the debt ceiling negotiations are but one theater. “What makes a bipartisan ‘grand bargain’ so elusive is less the budget numbers, on which compromise could be in reach, than each side’s principles, which do not lend themselves to splitting the difference,” reporter Jackie Calmes writes.
DeMint just loudly reiterated his principles. So, what’s Plan C?