When I asked John Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel about the McConnell plan on the debt limit – how it could pass, if it it could pass, he said that the Speaker “shares the Leader’s frustration.”
“We just want to ensure that debt limit is not used as a way to bring up job-killing tax hikes,” he said.
Steel is saying the same thing to other reporters, with a slightly altered phrasing – that the debt limit should not be used as “leverage” for tax hikes. The conventional reading of this is right. Republicans began the day by saying that the debt limit is “Obama’s problem” – a phrase that Tom Coburn repeated in a scrum with reporters earlier. Even if the McConnell plan goes nowhere, this jujitsu is important for them. People need to believe the White House turned this into a political mess, not that Republicans did, and that he did so because of his demands, not theirs.