Thursday, May 25, 2023

Burning It Down

Recognizing that the goal of House Republicans in the fight over raising the debt limit is to "burn it all down," Will Bunch explains

John Harwood, the acclaimed veteran journalist who recently lost his CNN post while truth-telling, wrote that the real Republican position in the foundering negotiations seems to be what he calls “a primal scream.” Some of that, Harwood said, is GOP House members seeing the must-pass debt-ceiling measure as their only real chance to do something, with Democrats running the White House and the Senate. But he also noted that this leverage gives the right wing a shot at enacting measures, like reversing climate action, that are wildly unpopular with voters, and to roll back some of the cultural changes that alienate conservatives.

I think it could be even worse than that. Biden administration officials insist the government would run out of money to pay its bills and prevent defaulting on its current debts sometime in early June. Defaulting would trash America’s credit rating and possibly tank the stock market, and with it, the wider economy. Government payments — including Medicare reimbursements, Social Security checks, and military pay — would be at risk.

A large swath of House Republicans don’t act like they care about this. A handful of them who openly loathe Biden and who — thanks to the Big Lie of 2020 election fraud — don’t see his presidency as legitimate would probably love to see the White House fail. It’s the defining trait of the 21st century GOP: nihilism.

Bunch realizes that "Biden's faith that a bipartisan deal could be reached is very much in line with his political worldview" while he "should have adopted a no-negotiation stance, declared that the 14th Amendment renders the debt ceiling debate moot, and allowed the courts to work it out long before the government runs out of money." (With a more detailed argument for this, see David Dayen.) He concludes

The White House is preparing for a hostage crisis when they’re actually dealing with political suicide bombers. I believe Joe Biden when he insists that he’s fighting for “the soul of America,” but to win that battle, you need to know your enemy.

Democrats have been hamstrung in this battle not only because the leader of their Party seems not to understand the enemy. They've been hindered for decades because they believe the media is their friend and thus expected that the debt ceiling crisis would be reported honestly. Instead, the left/center media has presented the controversy as another partisan "he said, she said" dispute, failing to emphasize that the Democratic Party wants to pay the nation's debts while the Republican Party threatens to turn the nation into a deadbeat. Representative Katie Porter explains this to a House committee interviewee and to the country: 


Republicans do want to "burn it all down," as Bunch maintains. And if it does burn down, the 2024 GOP presidential nominee, as the opponent to the incumbent President, would benefit. 


But Jayapal did more when she remarked

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, that is exactly the problem, is when the media reports it as not their fault. And I'm just gonna- I know so many of you, I have so much respect for what you do. But let's tell the truth here. We are not tanking anything....

This is taking on the media Democratic-style. "I have so much respect for what you do but let's tell the truth here," as in "stop screwing up."   It may be a little passive-aggressive but it's effective, and refreshing for a Democrat, finally, to put the media on notice- or at least to question it. The media is not the Party's friend, not their ally, as the current episode so obviously demonstrates.

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