The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) plot to filibuster his own bill is pretty much doomed.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) opposes the effort, as does Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX). That means the junior senator got a lot of attention, but he likely doesn’t have the 41 votes he needs to stop the bill that funds the government without defunding Obamacare from heading back to the House.

If everything goes correctly, and the House doesn’t make any changes to the bill, the president should have a bill to sign by Monday that keeps the government funded, averting a shutdown.

And that’s when the real trouble could begin.

Congress still needs to raise the debt limit before the Department of Treasury runs out of money to pay its own bills sometime in the middle of October. House Republicans are preparing a list of things they want in exchange for authorizing the payment of debts they’ve already approved:

The Washington Examiner‘s David M. Drucker complains:

The package that House GOP leaders plan to unveil when their members return to Washington late Wednesday will be anchored by proposals to simultaneously raise the federal borrowing limit and delay for a year further implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Additionally, the legislation would likely include a collection of previously introduced bills popular among House Republicans and difficult for Obama to dominate, including construction of the job-rich Keystone XL pipeline.

The debt-ceiling package, set for a House vote by week’s end, could include a variety of GOP-friendly economic proposals, including tax reform, Medicare means testing, medical liability reform, an overhaul of the federal employee retirement system, elimination of the Dodd-Frank bailout, the easing of Environmental Protection Agency rules, restrictions on federal regulators and an expansion of offshore energy production.

And President Obama has already explained what he’s willing to give: Nothing.

The president negotiated with House Republicans in 2011 over the debt limit and feels that he sparked a dangerous precedent.

“We’re not going to set up a situation where the full faith and credit of the United States is put on the table every year or every year and a half and we go through some terrifying financial brinksmanship,” Obama said earlier this month. “It would fundamentally change how American government functions.”

Defaulting on our debt is infinitely more dangerous to our economy than a financial crisis. It’s also a much more nebulous concept that Americans don’t understand, largely because it had never been debated before 2011, when that debate cost taxpayers $19 billion and sent global stock markets into a tizzy.

A default of any sort would almost certainly lead to a financial crisis.

Here’s where Ted Cruz comes in. Having had his “Defund Obamacare” plot summarily dismissed by the GOP leadership, he’ll likely try to get House Republicans to reject or at least alter the Senate bill that keeps the government open. If that fails, the Tea Party base that Cruz and his colleague Mike Lee (R-UT) spent all summer riling up will be demanding a fight — even though they’ll likely have won huge concessions from the Democrats on spending.

The pressure to have a massive battle will be immense and the debt limit will be the only thing left to battle over.

That’s why I said earlier in this week that a shutdown would be preferable to a debt limit fight.

New York Magazine‘s Jonathan Chait believes President Obama has no incentive to compromise on the debt limit. “Terrible though it may be, a default may actually be necessary to preserve the Constitutional structure of American government and the rest of Obama’s presidency,” Chait wrote on Tuesday.

His argument is that the president has put his credibility on the line by saying he will not negotiate. And if he doesn’t reject Republican demands this time, they’ll keep coming and a default will be inevitable.

The president does have another option, as readers of The National Memo may remember.

In 2011, President Bill Clinton said he would raise the debt limit on his own and “force the courts to stop me.”

“I think the Constitution is clear and I think this idea that the Congress gets to vote twice on whether to pay for [expenditures] it has appropriated is crazy,” Clinton told our Joe Conason.

The Constitution clearly says that public debt “shall not be questioned.” President Obama has rejected this so-called “Constitutional option.

But if he’s serious about not negotiating, he should reconsider that position. Americans with jobs, houses and 401(k)s might appreciate it.

Photo: Patrick Feller via Flickr.com

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

James Troupis

On Monday morning, two of Wisconsin’s presidential electors and a voter sued a group of “fake electors” who sought to deceive Congress in an attempt to help then-President Trump overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

The lawsuit, a first of its kind, was filed in state circuit court in Madison, the state’s capital, and named as defendants 10 Republicans and two others "who conspired with, aided, and abetted them," according to CBS News.

Keep reading... Show less

Fox News

Fox News is rubbing its bigotry and volatility in the faces of would-be and current advertisers, leaving them without a shred of plausible deniability as they consider a business relationship with a network that prioritizes the promotion of white supremacist conspiracy theories.

On Monday, Fox held its upfronts presentation, an industry tradition in which networks bring in advertisers and media buyers and pitch them on buying ads for the next year. It was the first time Fox has held the event in person since 2019. In the intervening years, the network has cemented its control over the Republican Party, helped to bring about and then justify the January 6, 2021, Trumpist attack on the U.S. Capitol, run a remarkably effective campaign to dissuade people from taking COVID-19 vaccines; and demolished its “news side” in favor of more propaganda.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}