May 30, 2023

Debt Limit Deal

“President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reached final agreement Sunday on a deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and worked to ensure enough support in Congress to pass the measure in the coming week.” AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left generally supports the deal, but criticizes GOP negotiating tactics.

“[The deal] imposes spending caps, but they are not onerous, as the cuts in the initial House Republican bill were. After several years of discretionary budget increases, this will force what is essentially a two-year pause at most federal agencies. Unspent coronavirus funds will also be clawed back — a reasonable compromise that this Editorial Board had advocated in recent weeks…

“If any sort of political center still exists in Washington, the tentative deal is about as close as it comes to finding it. Both sides got some of what they wanted: Republicans achieved some cuts, including to Internal Revenue Service funding, and Democrats preserved spending on important domestic programs, from the environment to education, at about current levels. Even on contentious issues such as tying work requirements to government assistance, Mr. Biden and Mr. McCarthy appear to have taken the least controversial route.”

Editorial Board, Washington Post

“If the House GOP genuinely believed that the deficit was a national crisis demanding extraordinary measures, then they would have been prepared to make some ideological concessions to address it. But they were prepared to make none. Republicans refused to consider any tax increases in negotiations. To the contrary, they remained officially committed to increasing the deficit by nearly $3 trillion through an extension of the Trump tax cuts…

“Meanwhile, McCarthy pushed for an even larger increase to defense spending than Biden had initially proposed. Perhaps most egregiously, the speaker successfully sought a cut in IRS funding that will increase the deficit by undermining tax collection.”

Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

“China and Russia have benefited from our obvious fiscal dysfunction, portraying the United States as an unstable democracy and unreliable economic partner. Discussions at the Group of Seven meetings were hijacked by concerns over the global fallout of a possible U.S. default. Biden had to cut short his diplomatic trip to Asia… The U.S. government also might have already incurred higher borrowing costs, of as-yet-unknown amounts…  

“[Yet] From what we know so far, this much-ballyhooed ‘deal’ doesn’t seem terribly different from whatever budget agreement would have materialized anyway later this year, during the usual annual appropriations process, under divided government. To President Biden’s credit, the most objectionable ransoms that Republicans had been demanding are all gone… What was the point of all this drama, exactly?

Catherine Rampell, Washington Post

From the Right

The right generally supports the deal, but some argue the spending cuts do not go far enough.

The right generally supports the deal, but some argue the spending cuts do not go far enough.

“McCarthy outmaneuvered the White House and has negotiated a deal that has valuable concessions that conservatives have demanded: strict spending caps for 2024, a green light on new energy permitting, no new student-loan bailouts, reinstituting work requirements for welfare, a rescission of some $50 billion of unspent COVID money and new limits on President Biden’s job-killing regulations…

“Like most conservatives, I’d have liked to see tougher spending cuts, but the reality right now is Republicans only control one-half of one branch of government… McCarthy stated over the weekend that he expects more than 95% of House Republicans will vote yes on the 99-page bill. But it should be 95% of Democrats who supply the votes for passage. They are the ones who have been falsely proclaiming that it will be Armageddon if it isn’t passed by June 5.”

Stephen Moore, New York Post

Some argue, “Some of the things Republicans called for, like expanded work requirements for SNAP benefits, did make it into the bills. It also clawed back unspent COVID-19 relief funds. But those savings pale in comparison to the one percent non-military spending increase allowed next year, much less other problematic spending initiatives like the green subsidies in the (so-called) Inflation Reduction Act…

“This debt limit deal doesn’t cut spending, it just limits how fast spending grows… Getting work requirements for social welfare is all fine and dandy, but you know what would make the amount we’re spending on that social welfare a considerably smaller problem? Meaningful cuts in spending from literally anywhere else. Not freezing spending. Actual cuts. A deal that increases the federal debt by $4 trillion isn’t a deal at all.”

Joe Cunningham, RedState

“Americans hear plenty of yearning about the good old days of bipartisanship when Democrats and Republicans could sit down at the negotiating table and work out their disagreements. Well, that process looks like this — where your side gets some wins but not the big-ticket items you probably never had much of a chance of landing anyway. Negotiations like this very rarely end with the budgetary equivalent of unilateral surrender…

“In November, Americans went to the polls and chose divided government — a slightly larger Senate Democratic majority and a new, small House Republican majority. This deal is the consequence of those votes. If Americans want something different, they’ll have an opportunity to pick new dealmakers in November 2024.”
Jim Geraghty, Washington Post

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