Just gonna remind everyone that the debt ceiling was automatic until Newticles became a Republican Superstar and weaponized it as leverage. That’s our history lesson.
Anyway, the Pod Save Whatevs newsletter does a bit of sussing out our options for this mess, and it’s pretty good analysis:
In addition to placing abortion and voting rights in peril, making routine governing all but impossible, and allowing Republicans to sabotage the economic recovery, the filibuster now threatens the centerpiece of President Biden’s agenda. Will that be enough to convince Senate Democrats to do away with it? Guys, it’s time for some game theory.
- House Democrats will pass legislation to extend funding for the government into December, ahead of a September 30 government-shutdown deadline. Their bill will include disaster-relief funds for hurricane, flood, and fire-ravaged states across the country, and a provision to lift the national debt limit, which Congress must increase, suspend, or repeal by mid-October, before the U.S. begins defaulting on its financial obligations, thus wrecking the economy. No pressure!
- Enter the filibuster: Senate Republicans have said they will refuse to help Democrats increase the debt limit so long as they have the gall to keep advancing Biden’s Build Back Better bill. In other words, they’ll hurt the country unless Dems agree to abandon their agenda. The threat means they will filibuster the government funding bill, risking a government shutdown, unless Democrats strip the debt-limit increase from it. It also means they’ll filibuster a stand-alone debt-limit increase, risking global economic calamity, unless Democrats agree not to tax the rich, not to make prescription drugs cheaper, not to extend Biden’s child tax credits, and so on.
- That leaves Democrats three options that don’t involve testing whether Republicans would actually hurt the country unless they get their way: 1. Jump through a bunch of time-consuming, politically fraught procedural hoops to include a debt-limit increase in the Build Back Better bill, which is filibuster-proof; 2. Cave to Republicans and abandon their agenda; 3. Just do away with the filibuster already and neutralize this tool of GOP sabotage!
Mitch’s game seems to be that he either wants 1) the Democrats to own it entirely by including the debt-ceiling increase in the reconciliation bill (which may or may not pass, of course), or B) he wants to bring the U.S. and world economies crashing down. The why? He wants something for the GOP to run on in 2022 and hand him back the gavel.
Anyway, those three choices from the Pod Save guys seem like good game theory reasoning. Choice one seems to be the path we are on, choice two is what the GOP wants (hold the economy for ransom with the price being the destruction of President Handsome Joe Biden’s agenda), and for Dawg’s sake, choice 3 is a better long-term solution for the country.
I’m not a parliamentarian, but it seems like the Debt Limit is economic and could be included in the Reconciliation Bill. I don’t understand the Senate Rules and how it is that the minority party (meaning amply be-chinned Mitch McConnell) can get away with this, but there we are.
UPDATE 1: The Just Above Sunset blog has a nice post up worth your time. Full disclosure: I link to that blog often from Crooks & Liars, and enjoy it very much. Alan doesn’t post as much as I wish he would, he’s an elegant writer with keen observations. (H/T Scissorhead Jimmy-T)