Please, Boehner and McConnell, Don't Fight In Front Of Jennifer Rubin

by Jonathan Chait | July 28, 2011

A couple weeks ago, Mitch McConnell leaked his debt ceiling plan to Jennifer Rubin. She defended it assiduously. It was a brilliant idea, perfection itself. If it had any flaw at all, it was merely that it was too brilliant for its critics to understand:

If there is a criticism of the McConnell plan it is that he vastly overestimated the ability of the political class to understand an out-of-the-box proposal. Maybe he could come up with a chart or a video.

Now John Boehner has a debt ceiling plan, and Jennifer Rubin also thinks it's utterly brilliant:

We know what happens if the Boehner bill fails in the House. There is no alternative plan. We suffer whatever shock to the U.S. and world economies that will follow a default. The president will go to the country, claiming the Republicans endangered the country’s economy and global standing. But what happens if the House passes the Boehner bill?
1. The Boehner bill becomes the inevitable solution to the crisis. As Keith Hennessey explains, we also make progress in restoring fiscal sanity. . . .
2. The House would have done its job without violating the core promises the speaker made: more spending cuts than dollars increased in the debt ceiling. And no tax hikes.
3. President Obama, after decrying the plan, will almost certainly have to sign it. This in no sense will be looked upon as a victory by Democrats. To the contrary, by ignoring the president’s veto threat, the House will have shown that its views (and those of its Tea Party freshmen) can’t be ignored by the White House.
4. Congress will rebuff Obama and Reid’s efforts to slash more than $800 billion in defense spending. It is for this reason that former ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton has endorsed the plan.
5. The rap on the Tea Party that it is incapable of governing will be proven false.
6. The rap that the Republicans are divided between the Tea Party and everyone else will be disproven as well.
7. The most shrill voices in the GOP will take one on the chin, and thereby reveal that the gap is actually between a few loud voices in the blogosphere and Congress, on one hand, and the bulk of the conservative movement, on the other. The Tea Party, however, will show it can move opinion and govern.
8. Obama won’t have any excuse for the rotten economy.
9. The left will be demoralized. The left demanded a clean debt bill, railed against spending cuts, and pleaded for tax hikes. They will have failed, and Obama, by signing the Boehner bill, will be the object of their ire.
10. The Senate Democrats, who failed to do their job in passing budgets in two successive years, will be forced to take a tough vote, which will either displease their base or, for certain senators, critical red state voters.
At some level you wonder why this is even controversial in Republican ranks.

There may have been even more wonderful things about the plan, but Rubin ran out of fingers.

Yet here is the odd thing. McConnell's plan is extremely different than Boehner's. McConnell extends the debt ceiling past the 2012 election without any required policy changes. Boehner does not extend the debt ceiling past the 2012 election, but does require substantial spending cuts plus a panel to propose additional deficit reduction. How can both of these be such wonderful ideas?

Indeed, it makes me wonder just what Rubin would consider the best possible plan. What if we took the longer debt ceiling extension from McConnell's plan and paired it with the immediate spending cuts from Boehner's plan? That would be, like, some ultra-super-perfect hybrid, right?

Except there is a plan like that. Harry Reid proposed it. But Rubin has denounced it as a "sham."

So now I'm really confused as to what the best approach here is. Perhaps I just lack Rubin's analytic capacities.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/jonathan-chait/92817/please-boehner-and-mcconnell-dont-fight-in-front-jennifer-rubin