Political Animal


July 13, 2011 12:35 PM WSJ backs McConnell plan (and a ‘bipartisan’ deal)

By Steve Benen

While the right doesn’t seem at all pleased with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) proposed solution to the debt-ceiling crisis, opposition among conservative Republicans is far from unanimous.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, one of the more influential pieces of Republican media real estate, got on board with the McConnell plan this morning. After several hundred words about how much the editorial page doesn’t like President Obama, the WSJ argued:

The hotter precincts of the blogosphere were calling this a sellout yesterday, though they might want to think before they shout. The debt ceiling is going to be increased one way or another, and the only question has been what if anything Republicans could get in return. If Mr. Obama insists on a tax increase, and Republicans won’t vote for one, then what’s the alternative to Mr. McConnell’s maneuver? […]

Even if Mr. Obama gets his debt-limit increase without any spending cuts, he will pay a price for the privilege [under McConnell’s proposal].

For Republicans looking for an excuse to back the McConnell plan and get out of this mess, perhaps the editorial will offers some cover.

But what I found especially interesting about the WSJ piece came in the last paragraph of the editorial. (thanks to D.D. for the tip)

We’d far prefer a bipartisan deal to cut spending and reform entitlements without a tax increase.

Yes, according to the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, a “bipartisan deal” on debt reduction would include the spending cuts Republicans want, entitlement cuts Republicans want, and the existing tax rates Republicans want. Democrats, in this “bipartisan deal,” would get nothing.

President Obama, the editorial board, “won’t go along” with this.

He’s obviously history’s greatest monster for rejecting such a “bipartisan deal.”

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • kevo on July 13, 2011 12:45 PM:

    How long until the rivets give?

    A relevant question when the Titanic was entering troubled, ice-filled waters; and one now relevant to the monolithic structure of the modern Republican party! -Kevo

  • r on July 13, 2011 12:46 PM:

    The wealthy are job creators. They must not be taxed as they were under Clinton, when the job creators created 23 million new jobs. They must be taxed as they were under Bush, when they created almost none at all.

  • martin on July 13, 2011 12:47 PM:

    They should just change the name of it to the Murdoch plan;>

  • Quaker in a Basement on July 13, 2011 12:48 PM:

    Democrats, in this “bipartisan deal,” would get nothing...and like it, Spaulding!

  • Jon on July 13, 2011 12:50 PM:

    Even if Mr. Obama gets his debt-limit increase

    It's not Obama's debt-limit increase. That's just one instance of how this entire article is aimed not at America and U.S. interests, but the narrow interests of the GOP, for which the WSJ is just the latest Murdoch-owned mouthpiece. WSJ is trying to convince wingnuts to support the plan.

    See, they haven't even gotten to the point of wondering whether congressional Democrats or Obama would support it. They'd be nuts too, for precisely the reasons WSJ outlines.

    There is no reason to make this easy on the GOP, or support for an instant the peculiar notion that the debt belongs to the Democrats.

  • Chesire11 on July 13, 2011 12:51 PM:

    Personally, I would prefer a bipartisan agreement to increase short term stimulative spending, increase taxes on the top 2% of incomes back to where they were under St. Ronnie of Bonzo, and have Mitch and the Orange Man kiss my ass.

    Why can't the Republicans be more bipartisan?

  • orange on July 13, 2011 12:52 PM:

    Next we can get bipartisan deals for a single-payer healthcare plan, cap and trade, and prosecuting war crimes under the Bush regime. How about it, WSJ? Surely they'd agree that such bipartisan deals would be worthy of their support.

  • Stephen Stralka on July 13, 2011 12:52 PM:

    Obviously this isn't the first time this has come up, but the idea of a bipartisan deal that doesn't include any tax increases is pure Humpty-Dumpty. It's like saying you want to hear an Islamic prayer to Vishnu.

    But if that's the way the game is played, fine. I would prefer a bipartisan deal that includes substantial tax increases on those that can easily afford it, cuts to defense and an elimination of oil subsidies, no cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security, and a massive investment in the nation's infrastructure to stimulate the economy. That's at least as bipartisan as the Republican plan.

  • Neil B on July 13, 2011 12:59 PM:

    Obama will be one of history's "greatest monsters" if he accepts such a "bipartisan deal." BTW, the wall street jerkoffs use "bipartisan" to mean something both parties vote to accept, not the usual meaning of borrowing or compromising of the positions themselves.

    BTW also, "wealthy as job creators" - uh, it's "money" in circulation that (partly) drives jobs, not how concentrated it is or whether it's a rich person spending $1M or 100 plain folks spending $10k each. Also, much of the wealth of the rich is "wasted" from our point of view by trading of existing securities and commodities which actually raise their prices and harm the rest of us, not as much as actual productive capital investment.

  • howard on July 13, 2011 1:05 PM:

    it's always worth remembering that the wsj assured us, in 1993, that the clinton tax hikes would destroy the economy, and assured us, in 2001 and 2003 (in particular), that the bush tax cuts were the perfect elixir.

    and of course the wsj was none too pleased with reagan and thatcher tax hikes either in real time, although now they are lionized retrospectively (and the tax hikes airbrushed out of the record).

    in short, it would be one thing if the wsj actually had empirical support for its belief that tax cuts uber alles....

  • LL on July 13, 2011 1:06 PM:

    Look. The WSJ editorial page is manned by a bunch of perfect oligarchic assholes, and no-one should take them seriously. Besides, they work for Murdoch. Now, THERE'S a reason to trust them.

    I know a default would be a total mess in all kinds of ways, but some of us on the left have been saying for a long time that we needed the GOP to cause some kind of truly epic clusterfuck to wake people up, and here it is. And Obama has made the right moves to keep from being blamed for default, no matter how hard the GOP whines.

    This is going to be a GOP clusterfuck, pure and simple. Maybe it's not a bad idea to let them own it.

    Because unless or until Voters begin to understand just who it is that's jamming that big dick into them--and has been for the last 40 years, pace George Carlin--we will continue to suffer from the criminal acts of a deranged party.

  • John__C on July 13, 2011 1:16 PM:

    What would a "partisan" GOP debt-ceiling deal look like to the WSJ?

  • bdop4 on July 13, 2011 1:16 PM:

    LL beat me to it.

    As a Murdoch-owned enterprise, WSJ has no credibility.

    I heard that there is an effort to launch investigations of Murdoch's U.S. entities. That can't come soon enough.

  • c u n d gulag on July 13, 2011 1:18 PM:

    "Waiting for Gigot."

    Well, now they know...

  • BrianTH on July 13, 2011 1:23 PM:

    Interestingly, they are basically admitting that their model of the Tea Partiers is that the TPs don't really care about policy, they just care about defeating Obama in some way.

  • Ted Frier on July 13, 2011 1:42 PM:

    It is what I keep saying: If you want a quick way to understand the right wing mentality, look at their hostility to the Fairness Doctrine.

    The Fairness Doctrine was designed to promote a more interactive politics. But right wing conservatives don't think of free speech as something that gives them the right to participate in a free, fair and "robust" debate. They think of free speech as something that gives them the right to prosletize. The idea that they might have to share the stage with someone who would challenge or rebut their cherished beliefs destroys the whole idea of prosletizing, which requires the speaker to have a monopoly on what the audience hears.

    That is why right wing conservatives are actually able to convince themselves that a law that expands free speech through a genuine "marketplace of ideas" is in fact a law that "censors" conservative free speech instead, because it undermines the challenge-free prosletizing so essential to our conformity-seeking conservatives.

    Get your head around the absurd idea that an expansion of speech is censorship of speech instead -- and how right wing conservatives are almost constitutionally unwilling or unable to see things from any but their own perspective -- and you will be able to understand a lot of otherwise inexplicable right wing behavior, such as how they can label something as "bipartisan" when it only reflects their own position.

    Right wing conservatism isn't a political belief system. It's an anti-social pathology.

  • rea on July 13, 2011 1:46 PM:

    Democrats, in this “bipartisan deal,” would get nothing.

    Oh, they'd get something out of the deal alright.

    The blame . . .

  • Norbert on July 13, 2011 1:55 PM:

    Of course the WSJ wanted a "bipartisan" deal for the Holy Grail of Republicans for a couple of generations, the dismantling of Social Security and Medicare. They needed it to be done by a Dem president, with Dem congressional votes as well if possible. Bipartisanship here = cover when the blame is assigned for massively unpopular cuts, an angry Dem. base who can no longer distinguish between the corporatist parties, etc., which would result in both right-wing policy and even further political success.

    The Republicans played it beautifully for the last 30 years and had it within their grasp a few days ago, with Obama's $4-trillion deal on the table and his name on a proposal to modify SS. But they screwed up because they elected a few too many frothing and ignorant Reps. McConnell and Boehner know you threaten to default and try to look crazy enough to do it in order to extract concessions, but you don't actually do it. The leadership wants to tilt everything to benefit the wealthy even more, but not so far as to topple the whole system, one which already benefits the wealthy supremely effectively. The conservative movement is a victim of its own success, and now has a tiger by the tail.

  • exlibra on July 13, 2011 2:10 PM:

    The debt ceiling is going to be increased one way or another, and the only question has been what if anything Republicans could get in return. -- WSJ

    How about the middle finger? That's my best offer, especially given that, as WSJ correctly states, "the debt ceiling is going to be increased, *one way or another*". Murdoch will see to *that*, at any rate; he's already losing boatloads of money in UK and doesn't want to lose any more through the intransigence of his Repub puppets.

  • T2 on July 13, 2011 2:14 PM:

    Obama used his idea of a GREAT BIG deal to lure the stupid GOPers into the Briar Patch, where they found themselves in big trouble.
    Once the GOP realized they'd been tricked into rejecting a reduction twice as big as they'd demanded, they decided to fold the tents and find a face-saving way to "blame Obama".
    The WSJ and other Big GOPers like Norquist quickly said " yeah, lets get the hell out of here".
    If the McConnell Plan passes (I'm still waiting for him to walk it back, but this WSJ article makes that hard) , it will go down as a masterstroke for Obama.

  • J on July 13, 2011 2:26 PM:

    "If Mr. Obama insists on a tax increase, and Republicans won’t vote for one, then what’s the alternative to Mr. McConnell’s maneuver?"

    What about just increasing the ceiling, in a clean bill, as has been done dozens of times before?

  • Josef K on July 13, 2011 2:44 PM:

    If anything, I suspect this will actually cause Cantor and company to dig their heels in deeper. Okay, maybe not Cantor himself, but the freshmen and true believers he's supposedly leading billed themselves (and possibly even genuinely see themselves) as 'anti-establishment'. Thus I'd think any suggestion that this is a good thing from WSJ is certain to make them at least very suspicious of it.

    One can but hope.

  • Neil B on July 13, 2011 8:33 PM:

    Can't a Democrat, if need be, simply offer a "clean bill to raise the debt" so we can complain that Republicans wouldn't pass that (if they don't)?