House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are staring down the double-barreled threat of multiple, critical deadlines and the knowledge that the House is going to be turned over to a raft of incompetent maniacs in a little more than one month’s time. The two leaders allowed their members to come back from the election on Nov. 8 and accomplish very little, then take the full Thanksgiving week—and the days book-ending it—off. That wasted time is now biting the whole nation in the ass, with the workload increasing—along with Republicans’ determination to thwart progress.
The number one thing Pelosi and Schumer needed to deal with started a few months ago, when House Republicans began announcing their hostage-taking intentions. The over-confident GOP announced that they would force cuts to Social Security and Medicare by refusing to raise the nation’s debt ceiling next year, now likely in June. That’s the promise the U.S. government makes to all its creditors and to the American people that the payments that have been promised to them—from troops’ paychecks to monthly Social Security checks to global debt servicing—will be covered. Not extending those guarantees by raising the debt ceiling threatens the entire global economy.
The threat that they would use this tactic was reiterated and reinforced. Democratic leadership more or less ignored the threat, implying that sure, it would be nice to deal with that, but there is just so little time and so many other priorities. Well, here’s a kick in the pants to that excuse of too little time, too much to do: Senate Republican leadership is now endorsing the House maniacs’ tactics, including the direct threat to Social Security and Medicare.
Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Mitch McConnell’s number two in leadership, told a Bloomberg panel of editors and reporters that Senate Republicans are right there with the House maniacs. They want to use the debt ceiling as a cudgel to force changes to Social Security—by “changes” they always mean cuts—and other programs.
RELATED: We have to save the world from Kevin McCarthy. No, really
“There’s a set of solutions there that we really need to take on if we’re going to get serious about making these programs sustainable and getting this debt bomb at a manageable level before it’s too late,” Thune said. “Typically, I think there’s been a pretty broad bipartisan understanding that default’s not an option,” Thune said. “But at the same time I think there’s an understanding that this does create an opportunity especially if the pressure’s on one side to deliver that outcome.”
The one side who would feel that pressure is the Democrats—meaning President Joe Biden and Schumer. So what should they do? Channel former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and cancel Christmas.
The threat would probably be enough to bring some recalcitrant members—possibly even some outgoing Senate Republicans—into line to get priorities taken care of. Like starting a budget reconciliation bill in the House right now that will include dealing with the debt ceiling, funding the government, and whatever other steps necessary for maniac-proofing the government. Yes, budget reconciliation bills take time, and can include all-night vote-a-ramas in the Senate. Do what Harry did, on multiple occasions: keep the Senate in session all night. Tell Senators they will have to be there all night.
Let them know that if they don’t play nice, they may have to be there until Christmas Eve, just like Harry made them do to give the nation access to health care. The Affordable Care Act passed the Senate on Christmas Eve, 2009, while a blizzard engulfed Washington, D.C. Threaten to do that again, this time to save Social Security.
Make sure the whole nation knows that’s what you’re willing to do: forego your treasured time off, during the biggest holiday of the year, to make sure the programs that are so vital will continue, unharmed. Make House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy’s nightmare of a leadership fight even harder by focusing the nation’s ire on the House Republicans.
Let Speaker Pelosi step away from the gavel having realized one last, huge achievement—saving Social Security.
Be like Harry Reid. Fight.
Election 2022 is officially in overtime, with a Georgia Runoff. We must get out every last Democratic voter for Raphael Warnock. Click here to volunteer in whatever way possible you can.
Daily Kos is the largest progressive organization online, but we don't have billionaire backers. We rely on readers like YOU. Chip in $5 to help us keep fighting for progressive values.
Why did Democrats do so surprisingly well in the midterms? It turns out they ran really good campaigns, as strategist Josh Wolf tells us on this week's episode of The Downballot. That means they defined their opponents aggressively, spent efficiently, and stayed the course despite endless second-guessing in the press. Wolf gives us an inside picture of how exactly these factors played out in the Arizona governor's race, one of the most important Democratic wins of the year. He also shines a light on an unsexy but crucial aspect of every campaign: how to manage a multi-million budget for an enterprise designed to spend down to zero by Election Day.