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Mitch McConnell has been promoting a new big lie of late... that the debt ceiling be considered a viable leverage point for Draconian Republican demands.

Called out for couching his position several weeks ago, the senior senator from Kentucky has gone from running to legs a blurred, fiery, circle of Wile E. Coyote speed.

McConnell has committed enough to this lie, that he has ended up exactly where Wile E. Coyote always ends up -- off the edge of the cliff, staring down, waiting for the fall to start happening. But don't count McConnell out yet. There is a possibility, and a pretty good one, that the one person who can save McConnell from that long plunge into the depths of the canyon will step up and save him. That one person is none other than Road Runner the President of the United States, Barack Obama.

McConnell started out having to make silk from a sow's ear with his debt ceiling ultimatum because the economic devastation that would come from a US default on its debt payments is too great even for Republicans to stomach.

But now out of the swirling mists comes the 14th Amendment which states as follows.

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

And what has Sen. McConnell been doing all this time? Putting the public debt in question.

Numerous legal scholars have gone on record over the last few days saying that the 14th Amendment really is crystal clear on this. The debt ceiling itself is unconstitutional. Therefore raising it is moot. The President not only has the authority, but the responsibility, to make good on the United States' commitments regardless of any invalid debt ceiling.

This is the cliff from which McConnell has launched himself. His ultimatums are completely empty.

McConnell's ultimatums are completely empty, that is, unless President Obama agrees to go along with the charade that they are real. So far, all indications are that he will do just that.

What makes little lies into big lies is mutual agreement to accept them as truths even when it is known they are lies. And this works. Remember, a dollar bill is worth more than the scrap of paper it is printed on because we all agree that it is, not because it is inherently so.

If President Obama accepts the fiction that the debt ceiling is real he will, metaphorically, reach out his hand to the floating-in-thin-air-Mitch-McConnell and pull him back onto solid land... so that McConnell can proceed to eat him, which he will.

None of this is to say that there shouldn't be spending cuts or that there should be tax increases. What it says is that the President is negotiating with himself. Any concession he makes, he makes voluntarily. Obama alone is at the table writing the deal. And he will be solely, 100% responsible and accountable for what comes of it, Republican bluster be damned. Obama, and only Obama, can call McConnell's bluff or let it stand.

Photo: Courtesy Time Warner


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Keith Rouda's picture

About Keith Rouda

I'm a news junkie and politics addict. I stay up way past my bedtime to watch election returns come in. My free time is spent with MoveOn.org advocating for progressive policies. I have an MBA from Sullivan University and have worked in small businesses and large, in fields ranging from advertising, to health care, to information technology, to talent acquisition, to industrial quality. I moved to Louisville in 1995 and haven't looked back.

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