Dang if I hate to admit McCarthy’s growing on me, even just a little, but…ach. Okay. He is.

The latest thing he’s done right is keep his cool and work his tail off getting the various factions of his majority talking together. There’s a radical idea in itself for a speaker. But it seems to have paid off in the case of debt ceiling negotiations, and it just might really put the Democrats in a pickle.

Especially since Biden is betting on the GOP having no strategy at all – being riven by the boisterous voices within it. God willing, he finds out differently.

… Mr. McCarthy unveiled his debt-ceiling strategy this week, and the party looks to have found a landing spot. In a Tuesday letter to Mr. Biden, Mr. McCarthy notes the rapidly approaching “X” date for hitting the country’s borrowing limit and asks for a meeting. More notably, he unveils the GOP’s term sheet—laying out several spending reduction proposals as examples of what House Republicans might trade for a debt-ceiling hike. Democrats can no longer claim they don’t know what the GOP is asking for. Republicans have made their offer. Over to you, Mr. President.

As Bugs Bunny says, McCarthy has utilized his time wisely and employed strateegery.

…Mr. McCarthy can do this in part because of the work of Louisiana Rep. Garret Graves, who for months has been holding talks with the speaker’s office and the heads of the “five families”—ideologically diverse caucuses that represent the bulk of House GOP members. Republicans may not yet have agreement on a budget, but those meetings and communications did produce support for the list of spending reforms Mr. McCarthy now offers in return for a debt-ceiling hike. They include returning nondefense discretionary spending to pre-Covid levels, clawing back unspent pandemic funds, imposing modest work requirements for some benefits programs, and enacting policies to lower energy costs and enhance border security.

That might well be a “gulp” you hear out of the White House. They hadn’t planned for a Republican plan, so…what to do?

Let’s pretend there isn’t one and say we’ve been meeting anyway.

Republicans have taken the “okay, the debt ceiling is the immediate problem, let’s get that settled” approach, which throws all of Biden’s calculations into a tizzy.

Schumer was already talking the standard boilerplate smack about “reckless and clueless” regarding the debt ceiling.

What does the Senate majority leader do when McCarthy trots this plan out…

…or, if Biden still refuses to meet him, passes his own and dumps the whole mess in Schumer’s lap?

…This has the potential to rewrite debt-ceiling dynamics. If Mr. Biden still refuses to negotiate, Mr. McCarthy could move to pass a short-term debt-ceiling increase with some modest savings attached. Then dump it in the Senate’s lap, and put it on Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to act. Would the White House and the Senate then risk default?

So far, the White House is indicating it will continue to play hardball, perhaps in the hope that Mr. McCarthy’s caucus cracks. And it could. But if the GOP holds together, this White House may have to acknowledge that Republicans won the House and fully intend to use what few must-pass pieces of legislation exist to accomplish some of their priorities.

So this game of chicken we play every year could at least be intriguing this round. As the GOP says, Yellen keeps moving the goalposts for when the limit is hit, so how is one to know when the limit is actually reached. It’s a fair question to ask, considering the muddle she’s made of everything lately if she even knows herself at any given point where she is in the process.

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