During his primetime address to the nation last Friday, President Joe Biden not only celebrated the bipartisan deal he struck to avoid U.S. debt default, he laid down a marker for one of his future goals.
"Republicans may not like it, but I'm going to make sure the wealthy pay their fair share," Biden said, explaining that he had proposed closing over a dozen tax loopholes for Big Oil, hedge fund billionaires, and others that would have saved taxpayers billions of dollars.
"Republicans defended every single one of these special interest loopholes. Every single one," he said. "But I’m going to be coming back. And with your help, I’m going to win."
Republicans’ top negotiator on the deal, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, took his own victory lap the day of the vote, threatening to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate with the House Oversight Committee. Republicans have been fixated on gaining access to a document making an unverified allegation that Biden, as vice president, participated in a bribery scheme.
Wray ultimately dodged the Republican wrath this week by offering to let Oversight panel members view the document in question. But the months-long wrangling and posturing over an obscure FBI document offers yet another example of House Republicans' misplaced priorities. Yet, that is exactly what McCarthy chose to elevate as his next big priority after narrowly avoiding triggering a global economic meltdown.
Americans are already disenchanted with the completely irrelevant agenda Republicans are pushing. A recent Navigator Research poll found that House Republican incumbents representing districts Joe Biden won in 2020 are 16 points underwater on the question of whether they share their constituents' priorities.
But the GOP parade of irrelevance will continue as McCarthy attempts to smooth the ruffled feathers of Freedom Caucus members who are livid about his botched debt default negotiations. In fact, just four of the group's roughly 30 members voted for the deal McCarthy negotiated, and he's got a lot of ground to make up with them in order to retain a speakership that nobody but him apparently wants.
House Republican right-wingers on the powerful Rules Committed are so angry, they joined Democrats on Wednesday to block two new pieces of GOP legislation from reaching the House floor—a majority revolt the likes of which haven't been seen in the chamber since 2002.
McCarthy and his top deputies were entirely caught off guard by the rebellion, forcing the House to adjourn until Monday with no certain path forward when members return.
What that translates to for the House GOP agenda moving forward is witch hunt city as McCarthy seeks to appease his most extreme members.
House GOP Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, for instance, is already targeting academics who study disinformation with investigations into their work, even threatening legal action against some universities for not fully complying with Republicans' records requests. The reason? Republicans allege the researchers have been colluding with Democrats to suppress right-wing speech.
Now there's a real swing voter concern. Don't worry, there's going to be more where that came from, particularly as Republican presidential hopefuls push each other further outside of mainstream America on social issues in order to win the 2024 nomination. In effect, the entire extremist Republican ecosystem will continue moving further right over the course of the next year while alienating swing voters in the process.
Endangered Republicans and outflanked GOP moderates can already see disaster coming.
“This is, in my opinion, political incontinence on our part. We are wetting ourselves and can’t do anything about [it]. This is insane,” Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas told The Washington Post. “This is not the way a governing majority is expected to behave. And frankly, I think there’ll be a political cost to it.”
In the meantime, Biden will be pushing his freedom agenda, selling his accomplishments for working people, and teeing up a conversation about Democrats' efforts to make the wealthy pay their fair share.
Nationally, Biden's message may not compete with headlines about '24 Republican hopefuls ripping each other to shreds, and House Republicans flaunting their persistent governing incompetence and utter irrelevance to working people. But at the local level, swing voters are already very much getting the picture.