You know what would be really great in the new year? For Democrats to have a big enough majority in the Senate that “Democrats” Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are rendered irrelevant. Or at least big enough to put a little reelection scare into Sinema. This is a relevant sentiment now because the nation is headed for an economic calamity if the House majority flips to Republicans.
That calamity could be diverted easily enough by the Democratic Congress in the lame duck session, but according to the political experts who spoke in a Talking Points Memo virtual event Thursday, it’s not likely to happen. House Republicans have already announced they are going to demand cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and social programs like Medicaid or they won’t allow a debt ceiling increase. Which would throw the U.S. into default on its debts; which would mean no Social Security payments, no Medicare coverage, no VA benefits, and no servicing of our debt to other countries. Which means global financial disaster.
In the face of that, the two experts—Adam Jentleson and Steve Clemons, who know this Democratic Senate as well as anyone—say that “SenateBrain, the mix of obliviousness and collective action problems” will keep them from acting to take the debt ceiling off the table as an issue for Republicans. There are relatively easy ways of doing so, the most straightforward of which would be just to hike the ceiling to an astronomically high number (or one that couldn’t conceivably be reached in the next, say, decade).
First thing we do, we elect a bigger Senate majority. Your $10 can help there. Second thing we do, we raise holy hell with the Senate Democrats to thank us by dealing with the debt ceiling.
But right now, there’s the oblivious part: They are not, and never have been, paying enough attention to what House Republicans are capable of doing. They apparently think that there is no way duly elected representatives of the people would behave so recklessly.
Then there’s the more nefarious part, which Jentleson voiced. He “thinks there are at least a few Democratic senators who think, well … it’s bad but maybe it will be an opportunity for a grand bargain on “entitlement reform” and managing the federal debt.”
Enter Joe Manchin, though he’s not alone in the conference. He was at Fortune CEO conference Thursday—because where else the hell would the be?—where he told the group that Congress has to do something about the nation’s “crippling debt” by making changes to shore up Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs he said are “going bankrupt.”
Yes, Joe Manchin is using the House Republicans campaign platform.
“We cannot live with this crippling debt,” Manchin said. “If we can’t come to grips of how we face the financial challenges this country has, then we’re all going to be paying a price that we can’t afford.”
Never mind that deficit reduction in the Biden administration is very real. “The federal budget deficit fell to $1.4 trillion for the 2022 fiscal year, from $2.8 trillion a year ago, a reduction driven primarily by the winding down of pandemic emergency spending and a surge in tax receipts, according to the Treasury Department,” The New York Times reported a few weeks ago. Yes, the deficit and the debt are not the same thing, but also THEY ARE NOT CRIPPLING ANYTHING.
It’s just Manchin attempting to sound like a very serious person who Republicans—and Fortune CEOs and banksters and all the other big-money lobbyists—can love. Because he’s not making enough money, apparently, by being the favorite of the fossil fuel industry.
So, yeah. Vote and get out the vote and give like your life—and the nation—depend on it. Because they fucking do this time.
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At long last, the 2022 midterms are almost here! With the battle for the House front and center, we give you a window into the key races on a final pre-election episode of The Downballot. We discuss a wide range of contests that will offer insight into how the night is going, including top GOP pickup opportunities, second-tier Republican targets, and the seats where Democrats are on offense. And with many vote tallies likely to stretch on for some time, we also identify several bellwether races in states that count quickly.