The Biden Administration - the first 1,500 days [NOT an Afghanistan discussion]

I’m not ‘for’ the reconciliation bill, because I do not know what’s in it.

People who seem to be in the know - I would appreciate a cite so I can form my own opinion. Right now, all I have to go by is Biden’s campaign messaging about families & education for his ‘build back better’ initiative. But apparently the reconciliation bill also covers / will cover Medicare, climate change, and immigration.

~Max

(I used the “gift” option to get this link, so it may not be paywalled.)

On Monday, President Biden shocked the political world by refusing to promise that the battle over the debt limit will be resolved without the United States defaulting on its debts, which would unleash economic calamity.

“No, I can’t,” Biden said, when asked whether he could guarantee resolution. “That’s up to Mitch McConnell.”

But here’s one thing we can say right now: Biden’s declaration sets up the possibility for an endgame to all this that Republicans might not have anticipated. If this continues, it will soon become overwhelmingly clear that Republicans face a stark choice: Either they drop their filibuster, or we default.

McConnell has benefited overwhelmingly from the failure of media coverage to convey with real clarity precisely what Republicans are doing here. Oozing with bad faith, McConnell keeps insisting he just wants Democrats to raise the debt limit by themselves, offering this idea as though it’s the most reasonable notion in the world, packaged with his usual smarmy smirk.

More to the point, Republicans are filibustering Democratic efforts to suspend the debt limit. They’re actively blocking Democrats from doing what McConnell himself says he wants — that is, for Democrats to deal with this alone.

Democrats are refusing to use reconciliation on the debt limit, and Biden’s new comments indicate that they appear determined to hold to this course. As Biden argued, if Republicans are not willing to help deal with the problem, they must at least drop their filibuster and let Democrats deal with it.

Who sez Unca Joe is a wimp?

Gutsy, sure, but dangerous. If we default, most people won’t understand the power dynamics. They’ll just see catastrophe, and know that Biden was the president when it happened.

How can the Republicans filibuster a reconciliation bill? All the Democrats have to do is pass that bill with the debt ceiling increase. They don’t need a single Republican vote. They can’t do that because they won’t give up the massive progressive spending they want. If the reconciliation bill was more moderate they could pass it easily.

So the other way to frame this is: Democrats risk government shutdown rather than give up their unprecedented spending desires.

The debt limit has absolutely nothing to do with the reconciliation bill.

There is no reason the debt limit needs to be connected to the reconciliation. This is an ultimatum made up by McConnell and the GOP. They are holding a gun to the country and blaming the Democrats. Same old same old for the Republicans. They want chaos, they do not want to govern, and they know the people following will blindly accept their attempt to blame the Democrats. I’ve been watching this movie for decades.

We really don’t know how people will react - that’s the most accurate assessment. And that alone is what makes this a dangerous situation.

Here’s my thinking on what Mitch is up to:

He has no desire to have a debt limit showdown. Right now, with new voting restrictions, Democrats seeming in disarray and the traditional “mid-term curse,” Republicans are on a glide path to make major gains in the midterm elections. The last thing that Mitch wants is anything that upsets the apple cart and introduces political uncertainty. Which a debt limit crisis would most certainly do. Republicans might win the PR war, but they might not. Why take the risk when things are looking so promising already in 2022?

BUT, there’s no way for him to keep his MAGA members in line, especially the half dozen or so who are eyeing a Presidential bid. So he presents a unified Senate Republican position that they will not support raising the debt limit. For now, that includes even opposing cloture.

But once markets start to tank and everyone gets into a panic about the impending economic catastrophe, he’ll convince ten of his members to regretfully support cloture. They’ll do so saying they had no choice give Biden’s and Democrats terrible mishandling of the situation. That’ll let the bill pass, and they can all still vote no on final passage. And then the markets will stabilize and this will all be forgotten by November 2022.

Of course the risk of miscalculation is high and the potential consequence is crippling the U.S. economy, but that doesn’t seem to bother Republicans these days.

The debt limit can be raised in the reconciliation bill The problem for Democrats is that they have larded the hill up with so many progressive wish list items that they can’t get it passed. They could remove that stuff, pass the bill, and the debt ceiling issue is fixed.

This is a big game of chicken. The Republicans are simply raising the stakes for the Democrats if they fail to pass the reconciliation bill

Debt ceiling doesn’t have to be handled in the same bill as Build Back Better; it can be addressed through Reconciliation as a stand-alone bill.

Sen. Roy Blunt said that what the Republicans are looking for with forcing the effort through Reconciliation is a number. Via Reconciliation, the number to which to raise the debt ceiling has to be specified so that it can be scored for Reconciliation. This will enable them to point to the new number and decry the evil of Democrats raising the debt to some horrible number, all in an effort to pay for what the Republicans have already spent.

The Democrats are trying to temporarily waive the debt ceiling, as was done several times during the Trump administration, and not specify a new ceiling. This cannot be done through Reconciliation.

You lay out a very logical, rational case for why McConnell may fold, but I think this is the part of your post that I agree with the most:

Indeed, I think we need to be very careful about assuming that the rational choice is the inevitable outcome. Moreover, when you consider the fact that the debt ceiling measure is being voted on in legislation that is separate from the stimulus package, there is absolutely no logical reason not to raise it or to prevent Democrats from at least voting on it – yet here we are not even two weeks away from a hard default and probably just days away from jittery markets, and there’s no movement forward on this issue. The Republicans are, on paper, going out of their way to be irrational, and yet they must clearly calculate that there’s some payoff in taking this path.

Cynically, I suspect the payoff they see is that they can either a) force the Democrats to come to the table on spending; and b) if damage the economy to increase dissatisfaction with the Democratic party. McConnell is an obstructionist, which by definition means that he’s someone who’s willing to sacrifice the greater good for his own good and the good of his party, contrary to what many of us would assume or like to believe.

No, the debt limit is entirely separate. It would be a separate bill. The Parliamentarian has ruled that there can be a separate bill for the debt limit and it wouldn’t affect any other reconciliation bill.

Wouldn’t it take the place of the reconciliation bill they want, though? Aren’t there a limited number of reconciliation bills allowed?

Rules allow up to three reconciliation bills per year to address spending, revenues (taxes) and debt. But since these three issues are very difficult to segregate from each other they usually only pass one that addresses all of them.

From what I read, any debt limit reconciliation bill will not limit the plan for the other reconciliation bill in any way. I’ll see if I can find a cite.

Best I could find was this Tweet by Jake Sherman:

Great minds!

Then what’s the problem? The Democrats could pass a debt increase reconciliation bill tomorrow if they wanted.

Wouldn’t it be great to show the American people that the Democeats will work to keep government running even without the Republicans? Or do they think the American people really aren’t on board with cranking up the debt by 4.7 trillion dollars and the Dems are looking for some Republican cover?

Or maybe they keep holding out hope Republicans will find some morals and do what they did without question during Trump’s administration.