Will the US default on its debt?

Certainly the only Democrat who has a chance at winning a Senate seat in West Virginia for the foreseeable future is Manchin. But with 2024 being a presidential election year and the Republican candidate all but certain to win in a in blowout West Virginia, he’ll be facing long odds. This last cycle, in every state but one (Maine), the winning Presidential candidate’s party also won the Senate race. And Susan Collins had a much smaller deficit to overcome, with Maine going to Biden by 9 points (versus West Virginia going to Trump by 39 points).

Manchin’s advantages are his independent reputation and basically limitless ability to raise campaign funds as Chair of Energy and Natural Resources.

Looks like the AZ Dems are turning on Sinema.

This is going pretty much the way I thought it would: McConnell’s Senate Repubs say “no” on raising the debt limit.

Democrats are probably forced to use reconciliation to get the debt ceiling raised, which they will in a pinch, but at minimum, they will likely have to jettison the bigger stimulus in order to ensure that the hard infrastructure deal still has a chance to pass.

Pelosi, being the realist, understands that she can probably have some of their agenda but not all of it, so she has to break the bad news to the House progressives, who feel jilted. The reality that Republicans and frankly much of the Democratic party is not interesting in carrying their perceived mandate forward, it’ll be interesting to see how the progressives act – I could actually see them burning down the House, which would be a mistake of course. Hopefully Bernie Sanders and a few others who sympathize with their cause can intervene.

Still major questions, problems to be resolved. Oh by the way, there might be a shutdown at the end of the week. Fun times.

How would this happen exactly? My understanding is that all 48+2 Democratic caucusing senators would be needed along with a majority in the House. The problem this time, however, isn’t Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema or the blue dog House Democrats. It seems the problem is Bernie, AOC, and the far left. How do we get them back on board?

Promise something even mildly progressive? Acknowledge that their position is reasonable? Anything other than just getting mad at them for not being pragmatists letting themselves be pulled to the right as the Republican party gets ever more extreme, like the rest of the Democrats?

It’s both, really, but it’s the Senate Democrats who effectively caved first. Their party has the votes to do it all if they wanted to, but the Senate Dems (two in particular) are afraid of losing support in the middle and the support of their donors. So they’re the ones caving, not Bernie and the House Dems. They said they’d vote that shit down if they didn’t get both bills through the congress and that’s exactly what they’re doing. And like I said, McConnell has gamed this shit out pretty well.

This goes back to a point I made a while ago when there was talk about getting rid of the filibuster. Why don’t moderates like Manchin and Sinema want to end the filibuster? This is why. If there were no filibuster the pressure on them would be huge; the debate would close and then they’d have to put a vote down. The filibuster gives them disproportionate power. They’re essentially power brokers. They assume that they still can be even if they lose control of the Senate because they assume that there are at least two people like them on the other side of the aisle. Sinema and Manchin do not give a flying fuck about the Democratic party. They probably privately sneer at the progressives the same way many Republicans do. For them, it’s simple; it’s about the power that they now have. Sinema and Manchin aren’t really Democrats; they’re Republican Lite. Sucks for us, I guess.

Nancy Pelosi has been forced to concede that her Dem coalition is fragile. The progressives in the House are going to effectively tank both bills. It’s now very much an open question as to whether any infrastructure gets done. From the perspective of the progressive caucus, many of them take the position that they were elected to office to push an aggressive social economic agenda and they’ve been told since 2018 - and earlier - that they need to be patient, that they need to wait. They’re tired of waiting, tired of strategizing. I get it - I think they’re making a major tactical error, but I get it. That’s what their voters wanted.

As a political conservative but one who wants to see the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill pass, as a matter of political strategy I frankly agree with the Progressive decision to tank both bills. There’s political preferences, in which my politics are actually fairly close to Joe Manchin’s, I’m probably more conservative on some economic issues and he’s a little more conservative on some social ones (he’s Pro-Life for example), but from a process standpoint it’s really bad for the country that far right recalcitrance is seen as the thing everyone has to find a way to compromise with.

The progressives clearly have the votes to play hardball, and they should. It’s frankly good for democracy for them to finally stand up and say “we can refuse to keep compromising beyond what is reasonable.” Also, frankly–and again, I don’t agree with a lot of the Biden agenda, I voted for Biden because the Republican party descended into fascism, not because I suddenly became a lefty–but I think Biden was elected with a mandate to do some of the big progressive stuff. He promised a lot of it in his campaign. I think that it should be recognized there is going to be a cost to continually not delivering as a party, and I think the progressives are actually the ones who realize that, because they’re standing up for that platform.

The one thing that concerns me about a government shutdown is that it will probably delay approval of the COVID vaccine for kids. That’s something I have a personal vested interest in.

This seems like a point that Democrats should be doing more to hammer Republicans over.

Given the political divide over vaccinations (#sad), I don’t think it would do any good.

Very much this. Democrats need to go big, or they’re going home in the next elections. The infrastructure bill won’t do it – Republicans will take credit for the bill and claim they prevented Democrats from overspending. No one is excited about voting rights, no one cares about bi-partisanship. Democrats need a $3.5 trillion social infrastructure bill AND healthcare to stay in power.

Does anyone else think the Republican party is nuts enough to actually follow through with allowing the US to default? After the last 5 years, it seems (to me) that they’ve been playing “madman theory” so much that they may no longer see the line between playing mad and being mad.

If Democrats ever get to govern properly, that will mean exposure and accountability for all the Republican criminality of the past 4 years. I fear there are enough Republican men with so much to lose that the possibility of a US default, and the consequent chaos, begins to seem like an attractive proposition.

It’s also possible that one day Democrats are going to get tired of Republicans exploiting their “madman” status and call their bluff. Unlikely, but possible. I don’t want to see 6 million people lose their jobs, but I would love to see (for example) AOC stand up and tell Charles Koch to bring his Congressional lapdogs to heel, or set a billion dollars on fire. (That’s an artistic flourish, I have no idea how it would actually work). I’m sure there are many crazier people than me who are thinking the same.

A major part of the problem on the Republican side is that Charles Koch (is he the one who’s still alive?) the Walton’s, the Mercer’s, etc. were riding a tiger’s back. The tiger / Trump’s base has knocked them off, and now it’s the crazy base that’s in charge of the Republican Party.

They have made the calculation that Democrats are in power; therefore, they will get blamed. What’s at stake is whether they get the bigger stimulus that progressives wanted. Sure, corporate America and the plutocrats are nervous and kinda wish McConnell wouldn’t quite go that far, but if it ends up killing legislation that they don’t like - and to be clear, they do not like the $3.5 stimulus and tax hikes - then they’re for it. And as long as there’s another party that can be blamed, and as long as that party actually has full control of two branches, then McConnell calculates that Dems don’t want to take the risk that they could kill Biden’s presidency before it gets started. As I’ve said again and again, McConnell has gamed this out. He’s a fucking reptile, but he knows what he’s doing.

One thing Republicans have learned from previous government shutdowns and debt limit brinksmanship is that even if public opinion blames them (and it usually does), they will pay little or no price at the polls. After forcing debt limit crises in 2011 and 2013, the GOP went on to very small loses in 2012 and sizable gains in 2014.

Exactly this ^

Adding another thought, it struck me that McConnell’s strength as a politician are like Nancy Pelosi’s: they know how to count and whip votes. Both of them are pretty much equally skilled in this regard. Pelosi’s probably even more skilled at bringing divergent factions together. They’re both skilled chess players who can think several moves ahead.

Biden’s strengths are his ability to read people and know where there are opportunities for compromise, and he knows how to cut deals across party lines. He knows what individual Sens and Reps want.

I could be wrong but it seems that the real sticking point this time is that the progressives are done making deals with their own party, which basically negates Pelosi’s and Biden’s strengths and plays right into McConnell’s and McCarthy’s. Biden probably referenced his prior experience with ACA in hoping that people would eventually ‘come to their senses’ and strike a deal, but he may have misread that.

Pelosi, OTOH, probably knew that the progressives would be pissed but hoped that by at least putting it to a vote and passing the House and forcing the Senate to block it would be enough to satisfy progressives. Unfortunately, that might not be the case.

So it looks like they’re going to do what they do best- kick the can down the road for a few months. The next time Democrats have solid majorities, I’d like them to pass a bill suspending the debt limit until the year 3000.

This is the big problem. We, as a nation, aren’t playing chess, we’re playing chicken.

I tend to think McConnell is fairly overrated, I haven’t seen a lot of evidence of any Republican congressional leader, in the House or Senate, really had any sort of master-tier political abilities since Newt back in '94. Note that I put a time date on Newt because he devolved into stupidity and even ruin for his party in the House in a few short years, but the '94 Contract With America was undeniably a watershed event for the party and the country and was significantly the vision of one man (Newt.)

A lot of things that McConnell is considered a “Chess player” over, are actually just him doing exactly what his caucus wants him to do, which is a pretty obvious behavior of a leader in either of the two houses. Up until the late 2000s, the GOP still had enough traditional “mainline” conservatives and even a number of liberal and moderate Republicans in the ranks that for a majority leader to maintain support of their caucus they would have to be willing to negotiate and keep certain entities and groups happy.

I certainly don’t think McConnell is a dummy or anything, but I don’t think he plays the hardball he does because he’s so smart and previous Republican leaders were so stupid. I think the Great Purge of moderates and liberals from the party, the erasure of almost the entirety of Northeast “Rockefeller” Republican Senators, the election of multiple hardcore Tea Party Senators in the Southeast and Midwest, has lead to a Senate Republican caucus where simply the only majority that exists is a majority that denies the legitimacy of Democrats to run the country and is defined almost entirely by hatred of the left and various far right grievances.

This is actually markedly different than the Senate McConnell was elected to in the 1980s, and while McConnell was never a liberal, if you follow his early politics back in the 1980s there is some suggestion that man would have had trouble with this caucus. But McConnell has shown he cares more about the preservation of his power than he does any fixed political ethos.

Due to differences between the two bodies, the Senate Majority Leader has always been significantly weaker in marshaling the Senate than is the Speaker of the House. For an old school conservative Republican, who doesn’t naturally easily fit in with newer conservatives like Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley et al., McConnell has largely maintained his leadership by basically only having a spine on issues that the vast majority of his party are in lockstep over–for example getting conservative justices on the Supreme Court is a goal basically 100% of Senate Republicans share. There’s maybe 4 Republicans who care about continuing to promote “bipartisanship” and trying to find conciliation on significant swathes of public policy, so McConnell simply ignores them. He doesn’t fight with them or antagonize them; he just ignores them.

McConnell basically is riding a wave he doesn’t control, which is why I think portraying him as a chess master isn’t really accurate. I do think he is savvy, I just don’t actually think very many Republicans in his seat would be doing anything different, because he’s basically just doing exactly what his caucus wants. McConnell in some sense lucked into his position–I do not think he is doing anything Trent Lott (the Republican leader the resigned his leadership in 2002) would not have done. Lott and McConnell are the same age, and had Lott not “misspoken” with some racist nonsense back in 2002 he likely would have remained Majority Leader indefinitely, he held a super safe seat in Mississippi and Lott’s politics actually probably would have more naturally adapted to the Tea Party era than McConnell’s did.

After Lott you had Bill Frist as leader for much of the 2000s, but he was an example of a leader that would not have survived the Tea Party era, he was simply too much of that wing of the party that believed in trying to keep government functional, he could not have functioned well as a leader whose caucus would have expected him to try to implode government nonstop to undermine Obama. Frist had made a pre-election pledge to only serve two terms in the Senate, and in a shocking development for an American Senator–he lived up to the pledge and left office after his second term. I don’t know that he would’ve remained leader after the Tea Party wave hit in 2010 though, the party was moving in a direction he would not have been able to move with.

Unlike the House where you can win a somewhat tough leadership election like Boehner did, and then leverage the power of the Speakership to corral your party even when a lot of them dislike you, the Senate just isn’t setup like that. If McConnell had tried to take almost any other path than what he’s taken since 2007 (when he became minority leader) it is unlikely he would still be leader.