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As expected, it’s five alarms in Beijing in the Senate this week. There is activity on many fronts—on the debt limit, on the Just Crazy Enough to Work infrastructure strategy, and on whatever form of icy inhumanity is driving Mitch McConnell these days. No, really. The New York Times actually asked that question.
The answer, of course, is a simple one. He wants to destroy the Democratic Party as an effective political vehicle. He will use whatever power he has to do whatever damage to the country he thinks will aid him in getting back the power he lost in the fall of 2020. To be fair, the Times gets three quarters of the way to an answer.
But two weeks before a potentially catastrophic default, Mr. McConnell, now the minority leader, has yet to reveal what he wants, telling President Biden in a letter on Monday, “We have no list of demands.” Instead, he appears to want to sow political chaos for Democrats while insulating himself and other Republicans from an issue that has the potential to divide them.
Simultaneously sowing misery among poor people, and people with disabilities, and people afflicted by the worst of the climate crisis, one might add.
Anyway, in the mid-afternoon, McConnell made an announcement. From CNBC:
To protect the American people from a near-term Democrat-created crisis, we will also allow Democrats to use normal procedures to pass an emergency debt limit extension at a fixed dollar amount to cover current spending levels into December… This will moot Democrats' excuses about the time crunch they created and give the unified Democratic government more than enough time to pass standalone.
That is such a perfect load of manure that even to quote it verbatim is very close to complete journalistic malpractice. (The “Democrat-created crisis” concerns the Congress’s ability to pay off the debts incurred, in part, by the previous administration’s idiot tax cuts. At least McConnell seems to have learned how to be a deadbeat, which is the former president*’s only real skill.) But, for the moment, let’s examine what McConnell’s offering here.
He is graciously delaying his destruction of the American economy until the heart of the holiday season, because economic uncertainty is just the ticket for what is supposed to be one of the primary engines of the fiscal year. (He’s also offering the sucker play by which the Democrats put a number on the size to which they want to raise the debt limit, essentially asking them to put a debt limit on the debt limit. Right. Good one, Mitch.) This has been described in some quarters as McConnell’s having “blinked.” Not seeing that at all. No cards have changed hands. The power dynamics remain in stasis.
But there was a possibility of a breakthrough immediately before McConnell offered his dead fish of a deal. The president hinted strongly that the Democrats might arrange a “carve-out” in the Senate rules that would eliminate the filibuster on this particular issue. At which point, of course, the slim Democratic majority could raise the debt limit with only a majority vote in the Senate. One way to interpret subsequent events is that the threat knuckled McConnell into presenting his proposal and staving off calamity until December. Again, this is nowhere near as clear a success as it’s being made out to be.
In fact, there is more than a little that’s crazy-making about this argument. The Democrats are willing to tamper with the filibuster for a temporary deal on the debt ceiling, but not for voting rights, or for police reform, or for trying to temper the conservative takeover of the federal courts? It is to weep.
But saving the country from default is important, too. And if they’re willing to do it, they should. And then they should do away with the damn debt limit entirely, because it always has been a gimmick, and now it’s a gimmick that has become an annual cudgel that makes whoever deals with it in any capacity look either stupid or reckless. For example, via Politico:
McConnell's statement is actually meant as a conversation-starter, according to Republican senators, who say the GOP leader wants to begin negotiations with Schumer.
The same way a mugger wants to begin negotiations for your watch and wallet. Jesus, Tiger Beat On The Potomac, report what’s in front of you.
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