The Circle Tightens

McConnell's Self-Filibuster

The circle around the GOP got a little narrower this week.

That's an excellent emblem of the silliness of the Repubilcan position on the debt ceiling, the way Mitch McConnell filibustered his own bill yesterday. If you don't know the details, quickly: During last year's debt talks, McConnell proposed a way for the administration to increase the debt limit by itself; Congress would not have to approve it, but would vote only to disapprove it if it didn't like it. The administration would agree to spending cuts, which Congress would pass later.

Most observers knew at the time that this fact--the debt limit would go up first, then Congress would pass equivalent cuts, meaning in reality that Congress could pass a smaller amount of cuts, or no cuts at all--was a strange wrinkle for McConnell to embrace. Now that push has come to shove and the Democrats took him up on his offer, he ended up yesterday opposing himself. Oops.

Meanwhile on the fiscal slope, it seems to me that pressure grew on the Republicans this week. Mostly it was the Business Roundtable people who went to the White House Wednesday and emerged pretty much agreeing that taxes should go up. If there's air between the GOP and the Business Roundtable, with the latter mostly accepting Obama's position, then the circle around the R's is getting narrower and narrower.

Also the appearance of a handful of polls showing the unpopularity of basically all the GOP positions. People want taxes to go up at the high end, and they don't want entitlement cuts. There's just no way the R's can talk their way around that.

Of course, that doesn't mean they'll accept this reality. The circle may narrow to a size that can hold only a few people. They'll keep hopping up on one another's shoulders to stay united inside it. Eventually they'll topple, but it may take a while.

I am playing tourguide this morning, so I'll be back with a couple of posts this afternoon.