Morning update: Nice to see this discussion happen while I was asleep. The morning after, I find myself thinking more and more about Kevin McCarthy. Why on Earth did he accept such a weak deal? I think, as noted quickly below, that the GOP’s oligarch puppet masters must have told him enough is enough.
Just a few quick thoughts.
Truth is, I’m stunned at how well Biden did. That assessment has to start with the caveat that the entire Democratic leadership screwed up not killing the debt ceiling when we had a real shot during past moments of united governance.
That said. Two weeks ago, I believed McCarthy and the Vandals absolutely were willing to push the US in to default. Tonight I certainly believe the Vandals still are. Ronna McDaniel sure seemed to suggest as much with her Kinsley Gaffe the other day. But clearly, tonight, it seems that Kevin McCarthy is not. I’m inclined to think that’s because the oligarchs who run the GOP (not to mention SCOTUS) actually do think they have more to lose from a global economic crash than they have to gain from the resulting Shock Doctrine moment. Lucky for the rest of us.
But let’s get real. Biden got a TWO-YEAR debt ceiling reprieve (which might be more than enough to kill it forever in court), and all we lost was work rules for SNAP benefits for childless people under 55, which won’t even change the total amount of money spent on SNAP benefits. Changes to environmental permitting regulations which I won’t pretend I know very much about yet, but doubt I will like them. But absolutely no change to the historic IRA bill’s climate provisions. No change to Medicaid provisions at all? (I’m not quite clear on these details yet.)
And two years of flat government spending, which obviously isn’t ideal at all but, as Matt Yglesias pointed out in his email tonight, is precisely what the GOP could get anyway just by forcing through two years of continuing resolutions through the election.
That’s it? That’s what Kevin McCarthy got?
The debt ceiling is defanged through 2025 (and hopefully forever). The market will pop Monday morning because Joe Biden protected the global economy by pushing through a bipartisan deal that almost all of us, just a week ago, would have thought impossible. And which the extremes of both parties are going to scream against and maybe vote against.
And let’s talk about those extremes.
Starting with the Vandals. I think (and hope) that what we’re now about to witness is the defanging of the Freedom Caucus’ supposed hold over the GOP and American politics. They’re going to try and tank this deal. McCarthy’s going to get most of the GOP and, I believe, plenty of the Democrats as well. Maybe then they’ll try to depose him as Speaker. Who will win that vote? Will any Democrats support him in exchange for what he’s doing now? All pure speculation.
What I do know is that if the Republican candidate wins in 2024 we might expect that the GOP will also keep the House and take the Senate, and lord only knows how our free republic survives that scenario. And I believe that by cutting this deal Biden is going a long way toward winning in 2024. Because for sure this deal goes a long way to stabilize the economy — I have wanted to see Biden invoke the 14th all along, I’ve been an absolutist who believed he shouldn’t give the Vandals anything. Not a crumb.
Dark Brandon is much smarter than that. While we’re nursing our grievances over the cruel and stupid concessions that we shouldn’t have had to make to the opposition, let’s please remember what we’re protecting. Joe Biden, who I never supported for the 2020 nomination and did not believe was the person for the moment, and whom I still find woefully deficient as keeper of the bully pulpit, nonetheless continues to amass a record of effective progressive governance that hasn’t been equalled by any Democratic president since LBJ and FDR before him. I’m still stunned to read and reread the collected legislation that this administration has passed over the past two years through razor-thin majorities at the perpetual mercy of the likes of Manchin and Sinema. None of that was touched today. Not even close. And as noted: the budgets agreed to are the same flat-line budgets the Republicans could have and surely would have had through CRs anyway. It’s a deal for two years, removing one huge risk for Biden in 2024. And Biden is going to be the great conciliator, presiding over bipartisan governance, just like he always promised America he could be.
And there won’t be an economic crisis over this. And the likes of MTG, Gaetz, and the rest of them are going to get stuffed.
I forgot to talk about our side’s extremes. if that’s us I just don’t think we have a lot to complain about and I think we have a lot to be grateful for. I think the awesome Joan McCarter got it really wrong yesterday. I think the provisions Biden had to surrender in order to close this deal are nowhere near the level of what we all gained. Nor anywhere near the level of what would have been at risk if Biden (and, it must be said, McCarthy) allowed it to through to the deadline, the 14th, who knows what.
And maybe most of all, I think what Biden pulled off here — remember that Dolt 45 was out there urging the GOP to push to default — is going to help us win next year. Which we absolutely absolutely absolutely must.