Those supposed “moderates” in the House GOP majority, the “Problem Solvers” and the “Main Street Partnership” caucuses are proving what objective outside observers have known for a long time now: There is no such thing as a moderate Republican. That has a corollary truth: The deficit hawks don’t really care about the deficit.
Very Serious Pundit Person David Drucker reports that the “governing wing of the House GOP—Republican Main Street Partnership Caucus” will object to a clean debt ceiling bill. Yes, after watching a full week of 15 votes for House Speaker, in which Kevin McCarthy handed the keys to the whole shebang to the Freedom Caucus maniacs, this conservative pundit actually claims some dude Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD), holds the nation’s economic future in his hands as part of the bloc that’s really controlling things. Which is everything wrong with our national political conversation right there: continuing refusal to admit that the GOP is utterly, dangerously bonkers.
But there’s more. The Main Street faction has competition from the Problem Solvers faction in trying to claim supremacy in the House. What they can claim is the support of asshole Democrats like Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), whose support for tax breaks for the rich above every other policy means he definitely doesn’t care about the deficit. He’s all for trying to force President Joe Biden and the Democrats to negotiate with economic terrorists.
His co-chair on the caucus, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), laid it all out on CNN over the weekend. “We can’t have a clean debt ceiling increase,” he told Jake Tapper. “We’re going to do whatever is in the best interest of our country,” he added, which is definitely not threatening the full faith and credit of the U.S., which is what not allowing a clean vote will do. Remember that just the threat of an impasse caused Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the nation’s credit rating in 2011.
Gottheimer basically endorsed that, and threw in some bothsidesism. “I think it’s irresponsible not to have the conversation, just like it’s irresponsible to default on our responsibilities as a country and put the full faith and credit United States at risk.” He later said that “Our hope, of course, is that leadership and the White House are able to work something out.”
“But we have to … keep working because the worst thing that could happen is we get to a point this summer where, suddenly, we can’t raise the debt ceiling, and the full faith and credit of the United States is at risk, and we don’t pay our debts,” Gottheimer said. “That’s unacceptable.” And it’s exactly what the people really in control of the House are itching to make happen.
Gottheimer’s the Joe Manchin of the House, pretending like there’s any negotiating option available with the maniacs. Pretending like that has ever worked. Just look at what happened to McCarthy! He had to rent the Speaker’s gavel from them with total capitulation to all their demands, and Gottheimer calls him “leadership.”
Anyway, this posturing from very politically unsavvy Democrats makes the prospect of using a discharge petition that much more difficult. That’s the procedure that allows members to bypass leadership to get a bill to the floor—it takes 218 members and a few months of time. As long as there are a handful of Democrats playing this game, getting the 5 Republicans needed to sign on is going to be a challenge. Supporters are already facing the problem of a tight timeline to get it done.
The call for “negotiating” is made even more ridiculous by the reality that the House GOP doesn’t know what in the hell to ask for in the talks they’re demanding. They could slash all the federal programs that aren’t Social Security and Medicare, which could cripple government services and make people hate them; they could cut Social Security and Medicare and make people hate them even more; and they could give a huge gift to the super-rich tax cheats by hamstringing the IRS, which would be really popular with the rest of America. That’s pretty much all they’ve got at the moment.
That, and going over the cliff. That’s what Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), one of the real gavel-holders in the House, wants to make happen. “We cannot raise the debt ceiling. Democrats have carelessly spent our taxpayer money and devalued our currency,” he recently tweeted. “They’ve made their bed, so they must lie in it.”
This is who the Problem Solvers and Main Street caucusers want to negotiate with? Someone who is so divorced from reality he thinks a debt default will only hurt Democrats?
There’s only one good option for Biden and Senate Democrats: refuse to play ball. Continue to force Republicans to show that they have nothing in the way of a plan, just a handful of extremely unpopular ideas. That has the added benefit of making the few Democrats who are aiding and abetting them have to choose sides.