A closer look at the legislation that actually passed late Wednesday night reveals that the limit on the national debt wasn't raised, it was eliminated altogether, at least until February 7. What actually happened is that Congress voted to “suspend” the debt ceiling from October 17 through February 7, 2014, when Congress will take up the matter once again.
This spending gimmick is informally called “the McConnell Mechanism” (in honor of the creator of this brainchild, Senate Minority Leader and perceived "conservative" Mitch McConnell), which turns congressional responsibility on its head and effectively gives the U.S. government’s gold credit card to President Obama with no limit.
Here’s how Ezra Klein at the Washington Post explains it:
The president gets the power to raise the debt ceiling and then Congress gets an opportunity to take a vote of “disapproval.” If that vote passes Congress, then the president can veto the disapproval.
If Congress can muster the two-thirds majority to overturn the veto, then the president’s debt-ceiling increase is rejected.
In other words, the debt ceiling vote goes from a vote where a majority of Congress needs to vote in favor of it to a vote where up to two-thirds of Congress can vote against it.
The same thing was done to allow renewed spending from February 4 of this year through May 19, at which time the debt limit was raised by enough to keep the government going until October 17.
Such an action is called political expediency, and abdication.
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