"What are the Republicans doing?" MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace asked one of the outlet's reporters on Friday as President Joe Biden huddled with House Democrats on Capitol Hill. "Are they just sitting in their offices playing Yahtzee?"
I chuckled. But frankly, Wallace sold them short. In between their rounds of Tiddlywinks, Republicans managed to shoot down a bill to protect global markets, the national economy, and the full faith and credit of the United States not once, but twice.
The GOP’s conduct is beyond cynical—it's full blown political terrorism.
If Senate Republicans don't want responsibility for voting to raise the debt ceiling, no problem—step aside and let Democrats do it, by a simple majority vote without a single GOP senator.
Nope. That political leverage isn't good enough for GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his accomplices. The only possible conclusion is that it's important for them to push both the national and global economy to the brink—to terrorize the world with a potential global meltdown that would result from the United States failing to pay its debts.
"We’ve said pretty plainly for months we will not abet the tax and spending spree, and that we’re going to vote against the raise of the debt ceiling," Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said Wednesday as Republicans prepared to kill yet another Democratic effort to raise the limit and avoid default.
Too bad Grassley and his Republican colleagues already abetted that "spending spree" throughout Donald Trump's tenure, adding some $8 trillion to the national debt. In fact, 97% of the national debt Democrats are trying to address was amassed before President Biden set so much as a single toe in the Oval Office.
The GOP position is completely indefensible: On the one hand, Republicans are demanding that Democrats raise the limit entirely on their own; on the other, they are deliberately blocking Democrats from doing so.
So while Democrats labor to strike a compromise that would deliver two major jobs bills, address climate change, make child care and health care more affordable, and greatly expand access to education both before K-12 and after, Republicans are sabotaging the country and the world.
The deal Democrats are seeking is taking longer than anyone in leadership had hoped, but it is by no means out of reach. Ultimately, Democrats are likely to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better package, even if the latter is slightly less ambitious than the $3.5 trillion bill the vast majority of Democrats were already on board with.
If there was a notable difference between Obama-era negotiations on the Hill and those in the Biden-era this week, it's that the Progressive Congressional Caucus was disciplined, cohesive, and wielded their power effectively. By refusing to vote in favor of the bipartisan deal until they had a firmer agreement on the Build Back Better bill, they preserved their leverage. That will be critical to securing funding for the best slate of progressive priorities possible. The chair of progressive caucus, Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, has been steady, consistent, and incredibly effective at shifting the balance of power away from centrist and conservative Democrats who no longer represent the consensus opinion of Democratic voters or their members on the Hill.
"Think positively," as Pelosi advised on Thursday.
The likely result of these slow and often frustrating negotiations is that Democrats walk away a variety of highly popular policies to run on next year. Republican achievements will come down to riding Democratic coattails on the bipartisan deal, while also repeatedly terrorizing the global economy.
Published with permission from Daily Kos.