This letter is definitely the most orchestrated attempt by Democratic leaders to convince President Obama to unilaterally avoid a debt limit breach … somehow.
But we’ve known they feel this way for a while now. So the really interesting question to me is whether the White House helped orchestrate this particular public demonstration. Whether it was an exercise in providing cover or of entrapment.
A Senate Dem leadership aide tells me the White House knew the letter was coming, but didn’t propose it, and would have preferred if it had never been sent.
If that’s true — and I have no reason to think it isn’t — it at the very least suggests the White House doesn’t want to be seen laying the groundwork for mooting the debt limit.
Maybe that’s because they genuinely don’t think they can moot the debt limit and they wish all this talk about platinum coins and the 14th Amendment would go away. But it’s such a convenient posture for the White House — unhappy about the pressure campaign, but somehow unable to convince Senate Dem leaders to back off — that it makes me wonder.
After all, if the White House ends up working around the debt limit impasse, they’ll want to appear to have been left no other choice.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.