If the GOP regains the House, four of the leading Republicans contenders for the House Budget Committee chair have all vowed to demand cuts to Social Security and Medicare in return for their cooperation in raising the debt ceiling next year. To be clear, that’s Republicans saying they will crash the U.S. economy to force President Joe Biden to give into their demands.
Now would-be House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has confirmed that yes, that’s exactly what Republicans intend to do. That continues to generate yawns from the super savvy reporters in D.C. and New York, who largely ignored the first reports of this threat. Now they’re continuing to try to downplay it. But it’s as real and as dangerous as can be.
“You can’t just continue down the path to keep spending and adding to the debt,” McCarthy said in an interview with Punchbowl News, reported in The Washington Post. “And if people want to make a debt ceiling [for a longer period of time], just like anything else, there comes a point in time where, okay, we’ll provide you more money, but you got to change your current behavior.”
As if Republicans had no agency in federal spending, as if they had no part in, for example, the ballooning defense budgets year after year. “We’re not just going to keep lifting your credit card limit, right,” he added. “And we should seriously sit together and [figure out] where can we eliminate some waste? Where can we make the economy grow stronger?” Again, as if the budget of the United States of America was like a household budget and Democrats were profligate teenagers with credit cards.
“Waste,” in Republican terms, is people getting the Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid they pay for with their taxes. McCarthy tried to play coy in the interview, saying he wouldn’t “predetermine” that they’re talking about Social Security and Medicare because, while he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer he’s not as dull as, say, Ron Johnson.
The cat’s already out of the bag on that, however. Any of the four people McCarthy will put in charge of the Budget Committee will threaten those programs, giving Biden a choice: Cave to their demands to destroy the U.S. economy, or they’ll destroy the global economy. Those are the choices, particularly since Republicans would also extend the Trump tax cuts. They’d enforce recession-inducing austerity on everyone but the super-rich.
Beyond the fact that they’ve already committed to the idea that they’ll threaten to blow up the global economy over these critical social insurance programs, of course they will! Social Security and Medicare have been on the Republicans chopping block since the programs were passed. Republicans hate them. Republicans hate that people love them so much they put Democrats in power for decades. They didn’t break through until they figured out how to get billions of dark money dollars into our political system to give them wins, and now they’re going to pay those big funders back by stealing the money in those programs.
All of the very serious people in D.C. and New York don’t think there’s any way the Republicans would actually force the U.S. into default. Just like they assured us all the people saying abortion rights were in jeopardy were crying wolf, because no way would the Supreme Court do that after decades of precedent. Just like they said warning Donald Trump wasn’t going to accept the results of the election and would do anything to stay in office was being alarmist.
Way back when, before the pre-MAGA nihilists of the Tea Party took over the Republican Party, government shutdowns were nearly unthinkable. The debt ceiling was sacrosanct and no one would actually consider breaching it. Sure, they’d use the regular vote to suspend or lift it as an opportunity to raise hell about the debt and deficits, but no elected official would have used it as a bargaining chip. Any lawmaker who did would have been called out in the media as a total crank and would have been isolated by their leadership and colleagues.
All of which is to say normal business as usual is barely a speck in the review mirror, and as usual the very serious people in D.C. and New York refuse to acknowledge that. We—the people who aren’t shielding vital information from the public because that has to go in the books we’re negotiating six-plus deals on—don’t have the luxury of ignoring Republicans when they tell us what they’re going to do.
So we have to be the ones to make sure that McCarthy and his MAGA crew don’t get their dirty claws on Social Security, Medicare, and all the vital programs that are keeping Americans hanging on.
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On Daily Kos’ The Brief we talk about the work being done to keep Nevada’s Senate Democratic. We are joined by UNITE HERE director Mario Yedidia. UNITE HERE represents more than 250,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada who work in the hospitality, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, laundry, and airport industries. Yedidia tells us about what workers in Nevada are thinking about and voting about this coming November.
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