The Debt Ceiling Deception

Good editorial from the WSJ’s editorial board. Important issue in the news today.

I’m duplicating the entire piece here, because WSJ articles are usually behind a pay wall.

Wall Street Journal

Democrats keep telling Americans they have the votes and a mandate to pass the biggest tax increase since 1968 and the biggest domestic spending bill ever. Yet they also claim they’re helpless to raise the federal debt ceiling without Republican votes.

It’s a preposterous position, albeit of the sort this Administration often tries to sell. Such as: The soaring number of illegal border crossings in Texas is merely “seasonal,” the Afghanistan withdrawal was a success, and the cost of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill is “zero.”

Yet the White House is sticking to the line that the minority party is at fault for the majority party’s failure to raise the limit. The press-office wizards rolled out President Biden on Monday to portray the GOP’s reluctance not to cooperate as “so reckless and dangerous,” along with the usual parade of potential horribles: a credit downgrade, a run on the dollar, and a potential default on U.S. securities. 

“So let’s be clear: Not only are Republicans refusing to do their job, they’re threatening to use the power—their power to prevent us from doing our job: saving the economy from a catastrophic event,” Mr. Biden declared. “I think, quite frankly, it’s hypocritical, dangerous, and disgraceful.”

But no one is preventing Democrats from doing their job. The Democrats can pass anything they want in the House. In the Senate they have 50 votes, plus the Vice President, to pass anything budget related through reconciliation. The GOP can’t filibuster such a budget bill—a fact Democrats are counting on to pass their multi-trillion-dollar tax and spending binge.

The parliamentarian has already said that Democrats can use reconciliation to raise the debt limit, so why won’t they do it? As it happens, Mr. Biden gave that game away when he was asked Monday why Democrats aren’t using reconciliation.

“There is a process” that “would require literally up to hundreds of votes,” Mr. Biden explained. “It’s unlimited number of votes having nothing directly to do with the debt limit; it could be everything from Ethiopia to anything else that has nothing to do with the debt limit. And it’s fraught with all kinds of potential danger for a miscalculation, and it would have to happen twice.”

In other words, Mr. Biden admits that Democrats could raise the limit via reconciliation, but then they’d also have to take difficult votes on many issues on the Senate floor. Some of those votes might be unpopular. Mr. Biden is admitting that the reason is political—that Democrats want Republicans to spare them from having to take those tough votes.

Now we know why Kate Bedingfield and her White House media team keep the President under wraps. He might blurt out an inconvenient political truth.

Mr. Biden and Senate Democrats are betting that if they blame Republicans loudly enough as the day of debt reckoning arrives, the GOP will cave and give Democrats the political cover they want. But why should the GOP do so when Democrats have blocked Republicans from any role in the monumental spending bill?

If Congress fails to raise the debt limit, the Democrats who run both ends of Pennsylvania Ave. will be responsible for the consequences.

So, what is McConnell’s game today?


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