Mitch McConnell has many virtues as a legislator. Unfortunately, brokering deals advantageous to Republicans is not one of them.
McConnell’s defenders will say that his most recent deal was the best any Republican could do under the circumstances. Perhaps. But this defense ignores the fact that it was McConnell’s prior deal — the one creating the “fiscal cliff” — that established these adverse circumstances.
Let’s step back and consider the impact of McConnell’s deals on the valiant effort of House Republicans in 2011 to use the debt-ceiling to attack the debt. So far, the results are as follows: (1) the debt ceiling was raised, (2) the debt continued to soar, (3) the latest McConnell-brokered deal will increase, rather than decrease, the debt, and (4) taxes are about to go up.
There are extenuating circumstances, to be sure — most notably the 2012 election. But they are insufficient to explain how the Democrats have thus far been able to turn the debt-ceiling battle of 2011 so decisively to their advantage.
It’s a tribute to McConnell’s skill that John Boehner seems to be taking most of the heat over the latest deal. The Speaker deserves some heat, but mostly because he managed to sideline himself thereby enabling McConnell to take center stage.