Here’s an idea

So desperate are Republicans to get out of the corner they’ve shellacked themselves into (paint simply isn’t strong enough a metaphor) that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell came up with a plan so convoluted and ridiculous that it took the ordinarily cogent and concise Steve Benen two posts to attempt to explain. Essentially, it would transfer unilateral authority to President Obama to raise the debt ceiling, but give Congress an opportunity – subject to veto – to block that authority.

It is Rube Goldbergian and ridiculous, as has been much of this debate.

As Benen put it:

In other words, in this little scenario, President Obama would have to offer proposals for spending cuts, with no corresponding measures to raise revenue. But it also appears that these proposed cuts from the White House need not even be serious — Obama could present plans he doesn’t take especially seriously, with the full expectation that Congress could and probably would reject them.

It would make the process needlessly ugly and stupid, but McConnell’s plan would seem to allow for a debt-ceiling increase with no guarantee of any spending cuts at all. Republicans would get a bunch of chances to grandstand, and rant and rave about Democrats, while putting all of the onus on the White House, but that’s not much. Republicans were going to grandstand, rant, rave, and point fingers anyway.

Here’s a simpler idea: Pass. The. Damn. Increase. Do it cleanly with no preconditions, which is the only way that both sides can possibly agree to now without giving in on principles both have said cannot be compromised -(the Republicans that taxes can’t be increased, ever, ever, ever; Democrats that Republicans shouldn’t be allowed to hold the nation hostage to win policy arguments). Increase the limit at least enough to get through to January 2013. Then spend the next year debating policy and attempting to enact proposals to solve the debt problem and, finally, let the people decide on Nov. 6, 2012, which of the competing visions they find most compelling.

This has several upsides: Government will function for the next year. The United States will not default on its obligations. Social Security benefits won’t be slashed. The global economy will be spared. And, as a bonus, the people can decide at the 2012 ballot box which vision of America’s future they prefer.

Wouldn’t that be better than risking what even Republicans acknowledge would be a financial disaster for the United States and the globe? Isn’t this how the system is supposed to work? Republicans: Put down the gun. Let the hostage go. Try to win your arguments at the ballot box.

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