CHUCK TODD (MSNBC HOST): Let's bring in Leigh Ann Caldwell, who is covering this mess on Capitol Hill, and Leigh Ann, I mean, it really is a clown show. Everybody's just trying to come up with a Kabuki dance that makes somebody claim they will feel better in their own media silo. That they "made the Democrats do X" or they "made the Republicans do Y." I mean, none of this makes a lot of sense.
LEIGH ANN CALDWELL (NBC CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT): Yeah, that's absolutely right, Chuck and from the words of the number two Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, when our team asked him about these new plans today, he said, "it's just too complicated to explain." And this is someone who is leading the Senate, and it is complicated. So, Democrats don't want to lift the debt limit on the reconciliation bill. Republicans don't want to allow Democrats to lift the debt--give them the authority to lift the debt limit by just allowing the cloture vote to pass, and then Democrats can actually lift it on their own.
So instead of giving in on that, they're doing this extremely complicated workaround, like you said, where they're actually doing a one-time rule change in order to allow a simple majority to lift the debt limit. And it is absurd, and it's convoluted and it's complicated, and this also benefits them, because the more difficult it is to explain to Americans, the more Americans and people will tune out because no one gets it. People up here on Capitol Hill don't understand it. But the reality is, and the point is, is that Republicans are trying to make it very difficult for Democrats. Democrats are trying to not give in, and this is ultimately what it comes down to. And there's been last-minute changes like that last update that you just read. That is different from how it was going to happen an hour ago, but ultimately, they're going to lift the debt limit with a simple majority by, hopefully, December 15. But also, time is running out, and there's still a lot of steps to go in order for them to meet that deadline, Chuck.
TODD: And, Leigh Ann, we're here, it seems like, because of two things. One, Democrats don't seem to want to eliminate the debt limit forever. Right? I've been waiting for that plan. I don't understand why they didn't pursue that. Like, get rid of this, make the hostage go away. And it seems like Republicans want to hold the debt limit hostage but are afraid of actually not raising it. Is that fair?
CALDWELL: Oh, that's absolutely fair. I mean there's a big difference now than there was a couple of months ago when they were working up until the 11th hour and the country was close to default. The difference is [Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell has been in these negotiations now. Before there was no communication between [Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer and McConnell. Now, McConnell is a key player, instrumental, talking with Schumer and [Speaker of the House Nancy] Pelosi about this, and they came up with this plan, and they had to make sure that they're going to have the votes to do it. We expect that McConnell is going to find the ten Republicans to allow for this one-time rule change. You know, some Republicans, like Mike Lee, are saying this is precedent-setting and this opens the door to a lot of other rule changes. I've started to ask Democrats about that because there are rule changes that Democrats actually want for things that they want, like voting rights, and if this does, in fact, open the door for that. That's not a question they're willing to answer right now, but we could be sure that this is probably going to come back to them, Chuck.
TODD: Well, I still don't understand for the life of me why Democrats haven't come up with a plan to eliminate this scenario from ever happening to the country again. It's beyond irresponsible. It's a waste of your time. It's a waste of our time. Unless they actually didn't raise the debt limit. But it's an absurd thing they have anyway. It can be gotten rid of. Maybe take the hostage away.