Pramila Jayapal

Rep. Pramila Jayapal

As the full text of the debt limit deal is released, reactions are streaming in.

Let’s start with the Democrats, who had been pretty quiet as the early details leaked. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), who chairs the House Progressive Caucus, told CNN that she is waiting on the legislative text to make a final voting decision: “That’s always, you know, a problem, if you can’t see the exact legislative text. And we’re all trying to wade through spin right now.” That said, she mocked Republicans for not getting what they claimed to want: a reduction in the deficit. Hard to do that when they increased Pentagon spending and removed IRS funding designed to collect unpaid tax revenue.

With the legislative text out, House Democratic leaders sounded optimistic late in the day about Progressive Caucus support.

That is the standard reaction after expecting the worst (relief, mixed with surprise, like new food-stamp access for the homeless and veterans): a huge progressive win. I can’t believe that food-stamp access wasn’t already a thing.

Aside from question marks about the Progressive Caucus membership, the bulk of the party remained supportive. Insofar as I’m seeing any reaction, it’s simply parroting the White House’s talking points. If anything, any celebrations are muted, lest they add fuel to conservative efforts to scuttle the deal.

But as the Semafor headline noted, “The Democrats (mostly) won the debt ceiling fight.” Or as progressive journalist Josh Marshall put it, Republicans walked into a Denny’s to hold it at gunpoint, demanded money, and walked out with nothing more than breakfast. It’s okay to be disappointed at some of the concessions while also celebrating Biden’s major negotiating victory in a government in which Republicans, with the House, unfortunately do have a say.

Many conservatives remain furious.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) continues his tirade against the deal, tweeting at one point that “it’s worse than I thought every minute that goes by.”

And Roy understands the leverage Republicans are losing in the regular budget appropriations process, tweeting that “If you want the border to be secure - no member of the @HouseGOP can vote for this #debtceiling ‘deal’ because it will remove all leverage we have to force action on the border.”

In further conservative ire, Roy tweeted that the deal threw out the $131 billion House Republicans cut in their debt limit show bill, designed to get spending back to pre-COVID levels, and replaced them with “what appears to be effectively flat spending [...] at the bloated 2023 Omnibus spending level, jammed through in a rush in December…”

In response, Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee tweeted, “With Republicans like these, who needs Democrats?”

Of particular interest is former Trump budget director Russ Vought, who is currently rallying opposition to the deal:

While we wait on text, let's take the numbers as the GOP is claiming w/o knowing the gimmicks (Dems are claiming higher spending). Deal provides $1.59 trillion in FY24 v. $1.602 in FY23. You gave Biden $4 trillion for $12 billion in cuts largely coming from unspent COVID$?

Or take "It cuts nondefense spending to 2022!" No it doesn't. FY22 nondefense spending was $689 billion. GOP numbers claim FY24 will be $704 billion. You don't get a dog biscuit for that.

Reviewing the text now. Confirms that there only 2 years of actual caps and then 4 years of meaningless language that binds only Congress & easily waived.

The "administrative PAYGO" is totally worthless. It's not just that it can be gamed with plans for fake offsets in exchange for real spending. Its that the OMB Director has complete waiver authority in Section 265 if "necessary for program delivery"

So I’m not a budget expert, but what that tells me is that whatever budgetary restrictions exist in the deal can easily be waived.

Furthermore, responding to a seemingly sensible conservative noting that McCarthy’s leverage was limited given that Democrats control the White House and the Senate, Vought furiously responded, “What exactly did [McCarthy] deliver on? You can't build on it because he gave every leverage point away for the remainder of Biden's tenure. The bill is worse than a clean debt limit.”

Savor that.

The bill is worse than a clean debt limit.

I actually don’t know if that’s true, to be sure. But I desperately hope it is.

Markos (Kos) Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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Kevin McCarthy

Speaker Kevin McCarthy

Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was asked on Monday why his party voted to suspend the federal debt limit three times under President Donald Trump and is now refusing to do so under President Joe Biden. He responded by falsely claiming the increases were all under Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

McCarthy and President Joe Biden have spent the past several days negotiating over the federal debt limit. Without action by Congress by early June, the U.S. government is likely to default on its debt for the first time. McCarthy and the House Republican majority are demanding massive spending cuts in exchange for a vote to lift the $31.5 trillion ceiling.

At a press conference, CNN’s Manu Raju reminded McCarthy that Congress had raised or suspended the debt limit three times during the previous administration without similar House GOP demands and asked: “There were three times under Trump where the Republicans and Democrats agreed to suspend the debt limit. There was hardly an outcry about cutting spending then. How come you guys didn’t make a big stink about it then?”

McCarthy answered: “There was an outcry, but the outcry was, the speaker was different. It was Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”

“But you had leverage in the Senate, you had leverage here,” Raju replied.

McCarthy continued:

You can read her quote. What did she say? She simply said no debt limit will get increased without first negotiating to spend more money. The difference then is, it’s what the Democrats always say. The Democrats think you should spend more money. We have spent too much, and in that place where President Trump had to negotiate with Speaker Pelosi and they spent more money, we voted to make sure to make it happen.

Two of the increases came when Republicans held the House majority and McCarthy was serving as majority leader. Republican Rep. Paul Ryan was House speaker at the time.

The first vote came in September 2017. The GOP-led House and GOP-led Senate suspended the debt limit temporarily and agreed to a short-term budget with emergency hurricane response funding. The legislation passed in the House with 183 Democrats and 133 Republicans voting in favor and 90 Republicans voting against.

The second vote came in February 2018. With 167 Republicans and 73 Democrats in the House voting yes and 67 Republicans joining 119 Democrats in opposition, the House passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. The law ended a partial government shutdown, lifted spending caps agreed to under President Barack Obama, and again temporarily suspended the debt limit. Trump tweeted: “Just signed Bill. Our Military will now be stronger than ever before. We love and need our Military and gave them everything — and more. First time this has happened in a long time. Also means JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!”

McCarthy voted for both laws. He praised the 2018 bill in a press release, saying, “While this is very, very far from the process the American people deserve, this bill takes an important step to ensure our government, and especially our national defense, averts more short-term funding bills.”

He specifically praised the bill’s increased funding for the military and disaster relief and “to address domestic challenges from the opioid crisis and rare diseases to reform at the Veterans Administration and fixing our crumbling infrastructure.”

Just one of the debt limit increases was implemented as part of a broader agreement between Pelosi, a Republican-led Senate, and Trump, in 2019.

Experts on economic policy say that unless the debt limit is raised or suspended, the U.S. Treasury will run out of money to pay its bills in early June and that such a default would likely cause an economic recession.

Reminded by host Chuck Todd of NBC News’ Meet the Press on May 21 that Trump had said in 2019, “I can’t imagine anybody ever even thinking of using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge,” Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) said:

“Well, first of all, he also said the other day, on a rival network, that he said that when he was president, and when asked why he wasn’t saying it now, he said because he’s not president,” Donalds said.

“Do you know how absurd that sounds?” Todd responded.

“That is not absurd. He’s always negotiating, Chuck. He’s always negotiating. That’s what he does.”

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.