Debt ceiling proves Republicans are reckless 2023

Congress and the White House have until the end of May to increase the debt ceiling, which means a high-stakes game of chicken. This conflict will test whether our nation can manage itself in a period of indignation, dogma, and Mussolini-like braggadocio.

Debt limit votes overshadow other policy fights. At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, the Politico homepage included six debt ceiling items. “Biden starts to throw some punches in the debt ceiling fight” was the hero, followed by “Former Biden adviser Tribe: Just use the 14th Amendment now,”

“Raskin: Biden has a ‘constitutional command’ on debt,” “Podesta: Cut energy permitting talks from debt ceiling fight,” “Debt ceiling brawl jams up the Pentagon’s mega policy bill” and “Debt anxiety falls a little on the Hill”. Maybe not enough.”

Republicans’ rashness on the debt ceiling debate

As usual in politics, both sides have principles. President Joe Biden is right to emphasize that a “clean vote” on the debt ceiling is necessary. Kevin McCarthy is right that the nation must face its rising debt.

Biden’s viewpoint is flawed because you can never truly separate policy from politics, and McCarthy’s is flawed since his party’s addiction to tax cuts is primarily responsible for the nation’s debt. Thus, principled viewpoints are irrelevant to the matter.

If the U.S. defaulted on its debt, nobody knows what would happen. The Bipartisan Policy Center states: “Failure to extend the debt limit in a timely manner would likely have catastrophic consequences for global financial markets and Americans across the country.” The center’s debt ceiling history is helpful.

History shows that the poor and disenfranchised suffer first and recover worst during economic crises. Despite inflation’s serious issues, our economy’s record-low Black unemployment rate this spring is a huge achievement. Economic downturns would threaten such objective.

With a proviso, history is valuable. Political games of chicken before a debt ceiling cliff have happened before, but never when a House speaker relies on his caucus, many of whom are intoxicated on Trumpian idea that blowing things up is good.

Whether it was our NATO alliance, respecting election results, or the Iran nuclear deal, former President Donald Trump has shown that a politician who builds on American distrust of institutions to advocate not just throwing the bums out but torching the house can win.

CNN asked Trump about the debt ceiling Wednesday night.

I tell Republicans—congressmen and senators—if they don’t give you huge cutbacks, you’ll default. I don’t think they’ll default because Democrats will surrender because you don’t want that. It’s better than what we’re doing today because we’re spending like drunken sailors.”

Trump hasn’t learned caution since leaving office. Political victory or defeat matters. Politics is serious.

Sarah Binder at Brookings thinks a discharge petition is unlikely. A shame. A discharge petition lets a majority of the House vote on a committee-stalled motion. Democrats hoped to win five Republicans to approve a clean debt ceiling measure.

Binder says “lawmakers have successfully discharged less than four percent of the 639 discharge petitions introduced since 1935.” Apparently, no five GOP House members will do the right thing.

There are methods to put the country on a more sustainable financial course, but they include actions one or both parties oppose. Democrats properly oppose social program cuts. Republicans oppose tax hikes. Neither party will address the defense budget.

After Democrats find better methods to cut spending and Republicans abandon their anti-tax ideology, a compromise might emerge. However, most members of Congress only suffer flank pressure from extremely gerrymandered districts.

Thus, our budgetary and economic crisis is another political explosion. There is no moral equivalency here. Today’s Republican Party needs reckless individuals.

In Wednesday night’s town hall, GOP supporters supported Trump despite his evident lies. Wrestling politics. It’s ugly. It may crash the global economy.

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