Conservatives dismiss McConnell debt plan at first glance

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) contingency plan to address the debt limit was met with brusque reaction from the right, which had hoped to use the need to authorize more borrowing as a leverage point to exact spending cuts.

McConnell's plan, which would allow President Obama to authorize in three installments an extension of the debt limit, accompanied by a spending-cuts plan subject to a vote in Congress, was poorly received by conservatives.

"Mitch McConnell is right now talking about making a historic capitulation," wrote Erick Erickson at his influential blog, RedState. "So fearful of being blamed for a default, McConnell is proposing a compromise that lets Barack Obama raise the debt ceiling without making any spending cuts at all."

The political logic behind the plan would be that the president alone would be forced to shoulder the blame for raising the debt limit, and that Republicans would escape a possibly difficult vote to raise the debt limit, or even raise some taxes. But the plan would not mean any iron-clad agreement to cut spending, as conservatives had hoped.

"Sen. McConnell thinks cutting spending is too hard. Help him find his spine!" wrote the Tea Party group FreedomWorks on Twitter. 

The reaction wasn't universally negative; Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard called the plan "a bold offensive ... against President Obama’s effort to force them to accept a tax hike as part of a bipartisan agreement to raise the debt limit."

And Allahpundit, the pseudonymous writer at Hot Air, recognized the plan as a way to take the heat off republicans.

"Unsatisfying, but if it happens and O faces a nasty backlash for raising the ceiling, it’s a compelling argument next year for why we need a Republican president and more Republican congressmen," wrote the blogger (emphasis his). "A serious deal on long-term sustainability simply isn’t possible with the left in control of one or more branches of government."

No GOP presidential candidate has yet commented on the plan, which includes a number of intricacies that can make it difficult to understand at first glance. But given the level of dyspepsia that quickly erupted among conservatives in reaction to the McConnell plan, it almost seems an inevitability that some of the presidential contenders and conservative lawmakers would quickly dismiss the plan.

"It’s a convoluted way of abandoning the fight for fiscal sanity altogether and leaving the mess in the Democrats’ enhanced control," wrote conservative pundit Michelle Malkin, including a rundown of other conservative voices' dissatisfaction with the McConnell plan.