So, when they say McConnell “sold out,” maybe they think he did.And maybe he did, we’ll never really know. But there are other options to consider before jumping to the easy conclusion. The most obvious possible alternative, and frankly the most likely, is that what McConnell did saved the filibuster, at least for now.
Democrats desperately want to get rid of it, this fight would’ve been perfect cover. Yes, Democrats could have raised the debt ceiling on their own through a reconciliation vote, but I don’t believe they wanted Republican votes to end a filibuster so they could say both sides were to blame for the trillions Democrats are looking to add to the debt.
Let me tell you why that doesn’t matter. First, so few people in Congress of either party actually care about the debt to matter, same for the public. Second, if Democrats had blown up the filibuster, which this was a tactic to do, it would have given them cover to ram through their massive “human infrastructure” bill.
Hear me out on this.Remember the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court? Democrats had already ended the filibuster on every judicial nomination except the Supreme Court. When Gorsuch was chosen to replace Antonin Scalina, it wasn’t going to make a difference in the balance of the court.
There was no reason to filibuster, there was nothing on the line. They did it anyway, knowing full-well Republicans would do what Democrats had done and gotten rid of the 60 vote threshold, which is what happened.No one cared, and barely anyone noticed. Then came the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the ultimate “swing vote” on the court, and the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to replace him.
That would impact the court, and Democrats had absolutely nothing they could to block it. They tried, but lies can’t replace procedure.Democrats want to get rid of the filibuster, desperately, but they know if they simply do it to ram a massive entitlement program or giant spending bill the public would punish them.
There’s also the problem that many of their Members are on record saying they wouldn’t get rid of the filibuster. There’s a difference if they break their word to protect the country from default and financial ruin, which they claim about the debt ceiling, and if they break it for a massive spending bill that subsidizes their donors and friends.
By ending their filibuster on the debt limit vote, McConnell prevented Democrats from ending the filibuster for any reason other than naked politics, which is exactly what they don’t want to happen. Their cover was gone and they’d been boxed in.
When you can’t get your way, it’s best to create a scenario where your opponents have to pay the highest price possible for getting theirs. It’s the only thing that’ll give them pause, and your only remaining shot an ultimate victory.
What will Democrats do now? We don’t know. But we do know they would’ve gutted the filibuster under the guise of “saving the country from default.” With it gone, it would’ve been game on for whatever else they wanted to pass. But that dam wasn’t broken, it’s still there now. Which makes it harder and costlier politically if they do it in the future for issues that aren’t “emergency” matters.
You can hate Mitch McConnell for a lot of things, any reason you want, really, what the hell do I care? But whatever reason you want to hate him for should be based on reality. And the reality is, no matter how much blowhards whine and pander to their audiences to sounds “super conservative,” what transpired this week was the smart play. Every honest Monday Morning Quarterback knows that’s the case.