'What he wants is simply chaos': NYT report exposes Mitch McConnell’s insidious debt ceiling game

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has a long history of throwing his weight around whenever the United States needs to raise its debt ceiling, and October 2021 is no exception. McConnell, Jonathan Weisman reports in the New York Times, "appears to want to sow political chaos for Democrats while insulating himself and other Republicans from an issue that has the potential to divide them."

Weisman reports, "Mr. McConnell has said the government must not be allowed to stop paying its debts; he has also said he will not let any Republicans vote to raise the limit, while moving repeatedly to block Democrats from doing so themselves. Instead, he has prescribed a path forward for Democrats: Use a complicated budget process known as reconciliation to maneuver around a Republican filibuster that he refuses to lift."

"It's a qualitatively new level of irresponsibility." As the US hurtles toward a debt crisis, it remains unclear wh… https://t.co/hgMJoMhbKU
— Jonathan Weisman (@Jonathan Weisman) 1633429577.0
Another factor might be at play: Mr. McConnell cannot control his members and is reluctant to risk the ire of Repub… https://t.co/k8dAPlZid4
— Jonathan Weisman (@Jonathan Weisman) 1633429871.0

Economists have been warning that if the U.S. were to default on its debt obligations, there would be dire economic consequences not only for the United States, but all over the world.

In a letter to President Joe Biden on October 4, McConnell wrote, "We have no list of demands."

Weisman explains, "Given that the switch is currently off, (McConnell) argues, Democrats have only one path forward: The Senate Budget Committee must produce a resolution that includes instructions to raise the debt ceiling, which must then pass the House and Senate and weather a barrage of hostile amendments. Then, the House must draft and vote on a separate bill to lift the debt ceiling, which would then go to the Senate, where it could not be filibustered but would again have to survive an onslaught of politically difficult votes. Any proposal could be considered, and if any were adopted, the measure would be forced back to the House. And they have 14 days to do it."

Talking Points Memo founder Josh Marshall, in response to Weisman's reporting, tweeted:

I've been criticizing the Times a lot and this reporter a lot. But this is a direct and clear piece abt the debt ce… https://t.co/FIHOW9FxeL
— Josh Marshall (@Josh Marshall) 1633432391.0

But liberal Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent, a scathing critic of McConnell, responded:

@joshtpm Better than most, but still treats GOP arguments as one legitimate side of a two-sided dispute, rather tha… https://t.co/DeJ4qhzr9f
— Greg Sargent (@Greg Sargent) 1633433418.0

Politico's Sam Stein, known for his frequent MSNBC appearances, observed:

A particularly blunt NYT reported piece on McConnell and the debt ceiling, making the case that what he wants is si… https://t.co/BAwwV1QOvh
— Sam Stein (@Sam Stein) 1633430733.0

Here are some more responses to Weisman's reporting:

@samstein @kimmaicutler The article lays out precisely what the deal is and why McConnell laid out a solution three… https://t.co/BXd7UT4jfn
— Karl Smith (@Karl Smith) 1633432926.0
@samstein The threat of a default under a Democratic Senate pleases McConnell. He wants to be majority leader again… https://t.co/xrr2E17YOP
— Troy Appel (@Troy Appel) 1633434351.0
@jonathanweisman @LeaderMcConnell Saying we are not sure what McConnell wants, while ignoring his own words of "my… https://t.co/eh9SG9BUqN
— Lon Elliott (@Lon Elliott) 1633432441.0
@samstein The GOP de facto platform: block any humanitarian effort to rescue and improve lives; enable pandemic esc… https://t.co/kTzdovhVRZ
— Hal Corley (@Hal Corley) 1633431583.0
@samstein Everything he does is to gain political advantage for himself and his party. That's it. That's all. End of story.
— Matt Haggerty (@Matt Haggerty) 1633432101.0
@samstein Mitch wants Biden to fail. Mitch McConnell has done everything in his power to cover up the corruption of… https://t.co/bdSvl1fm3c
— Debby Kidder (@Debby Kidder) 1633431576.0