Opinion Finally, Democrats push for an end to GOP debt ceiling extortion

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
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Here’s a thought experiment: Imagine that someone left a box on your doorstep. In it lay a pistol and a note, which said: “In the near future, I will come back, retrieve this gun, point it at your loved ones, and blackmail you for all you’re worth.”
You’d remove the gun and call the cops, right?

Something a bit like this is happening right now. It’s absolutely within Congress’s power to put an end to these debt ceiling threats. Not taking this step before it’s too late would be absolutely nuts.






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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy made it plain this week: A GOP-controlled House would use the debt ceiling to force draconian spending cuts. McCarthy, who is likely the next Speaker, declared that unless Democrats “eliminate some waste,” Republicans will not “keep lifting your credit card limit.”


For good measure, McCarthy would not rule out using the debt limit to leverage cuts in Social Security and Medicare.
In response, a group of House Democrats has written a letter to the party’s congressional leadership, urging them to “permanently undo the threat posed by the debt limit.”

“It is no secret that Republicans will weaponize the debt limit the first chance they get,” says the letter, which is signed by more than a dozen Democrats and several liberal advocacy groups.
Noting that default would be disastrous for the U.S. and global economy, the letter calls on Democrats to implement a solution that’s “more permanent and reliable” than the usual practice of entering into “toxic brinkmanship” until one side caves.






The lame-duck calendar will be crowded with other must-pass legislation — such as reforming the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to safeguard against another coup attempt — so Democrats might tell themselves acting on the debt limit isn’t necessary.

After all, late last year Republicans caved in a debt ceiling showdown, even after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had vowed to extract concessions. But it would be folly to assume it will be this “easy” next time.
Most notably, a GOP House is likely to have an emboldened MAGA caucus, egged on regularly by Donald Trump himself, perhaps even from his restored Twitter account on Elon Musk’s newly acquired social media platform.
Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), who spearheaded the letter, suggests a scenario in which Republicans have a narrow majority, with Trumpists like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Lauren Boebert (Colo.) demanding maximal tactics against the White House.











Once the nation nears the debt limit in 2023, Boyle expects Trump to stand behind the MAGA caucus in demanding no surrender. As Boyle puts it, Trump would loudly call on “my Kevin” to “stand with Trump.”
The phrase “my Kevin,” you may recall, is the moniker Trump actually did use to describe McCarthy as one of his groveling submissives. During the assault on the Capitol, McCarthy feared Trump supporters would kill him, then helped Trump cover it up for 20 months, seeing this as essential to becoming Speaker. So it’s very hard to see McCarthy not acceding to Trump’s wishes during a debt limit showdown.
“Do I think that McCarthy will have the courage to stand up to Trump and do the right thing?” Boyle asks. “Hell no. I’m certainly not willing to risk the American economy on that happening.”

When McConnell caved in the most recent debt ceiling fight, Trump viciously attacked him as weak. That didn’t work on McConnell, but his power base is not beholden to Trump, whereas McCarthy’s speakership would be.






“McCarthy is on a tight Trumpist leash,” congressional scholar Norman Ornstein tells me. “If he caves to Biden, on the debt ceiling or anything else, he will face a challenge to his speakership.”
It’s easy to imagine Republicans threatening default to reinstate Trump’s immigration agenda — finishing the wall or functionally ending asylum entirely — or even trying to defund ongoing investigations or prosecutions of Trump.
What can Democrats do to stop this?

Legislation abolishing the debt limit would get filibustered in the Senate. So Democrats could instead use the “reconciliation” process to raise the debt limit on a simple majority vote far beyond what it will attain during Joe Biden’s presidency, or even to an astronomically high number that will never be reached.
Another possibility: Transfer control over raising the debt limit to the Treasury Secretary, while giving Congress only the authority to reverse a hike by Treasury. That would have a budgetary component, Boyle suggests, so theoretically the Senate parliamentarian should allow it under reconciliation.






Throughout the Trump era, it’s never been clear whether the old guard of Democratic leaders views the MAGA-fied Republican Party as a dangerously malignant exacerbation of long-running destructive tendencies, or as something that’s not all that different from GOP business-as-usual.

Democrats may end up following those overly complacent instincts about the MAGA caucus, and pass up the chance to permanently end these games of debt-limit chicken on the belief that they can force Republicans to cave (or to drive their party’s tractor into a ditch) once again.
Democrats may prove right about this. But it seems like an awfully risky gamble. Just take the weapon out of the extortionists’ hands and be done with it.

 
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FlickShagwell

HR Legend
Gold Member
Jun 16, 2003
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Incredible that republicans will get even a single vote with SS and Medicare on the chopping block. “They told me in plain English they’re going to come to my house and kill my pets and bugger my children, but I like how mean they are to gays and women who want abortions. What the hell?” - the thought process of anyone pulling the lever for a Republican.
 

FlickShagwell

HR Legend
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Jun 16, 2003
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You would have to be abso****ingingly apeshitingly stupid to give the government an uncapped debt limit after everything we have watched from.BOTH sides the last 4 years....




No..... ****ing....way.........
Here’s a man who couldn’t give a f*ck about SS and Medicare. How’s it feel, whiskey?
 
Mar 11, 2020
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Here’s a man who couldn’t give a f*ck about SS and Medicare. How’s it feel, whiskey?
It feels like someone smart enough to know that is a small portion of where our money gets spent.




The United States government would name a spending reason "light bill", spend 10c on the light bill and 4000 on bullshit, and the dems would still be looking around at repubs going " you want to pay the light bill" when there is pushback. Figure it the **** out bud.
 

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
72,995
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It feels like someone smart enough to know that is a small portion of where our money gets spent.




The United States government would name a spending reason "light bill", spend 10c on the light bill and 4000 on bullshit, and the dems would still be looking around at repubs going " you want to pay the light bill" when there is pushback. Figure it the **** out bud.
You clearly have no understanding of the debt limit. It should have been abolished decades ago.