Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says Congress should give President Barack Obama the power to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally, but require the White House to submit spending-cut proposals to Congress for a series of votes in the run-up to the 2012 elections. The plan, which would allow Obama to raise the debt ceiling in three distinct stages, would allow Republicans to vote against debt-ceiling increases without forcing the U.S. into default. The plan met with a tepid response from administration officials and strong opposition from some Republicans, with Newt Gingrich calling the plan "an irresponsible surrender to big government."

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