Did Kevin McCarthy Win The Debt Ceiling Fight? An Analysis.

Kevin McCarthy announced Sunday that he had worked out a compromise deal with Joe Biden and the Democrats on the debt ceiling standoff. While this is good news for the millions of Americans whose livelihoods depend on Medicare, Social Security and government employment, a more detailed analysis of the bill shows that both sides took hits. The GOP technically eeked out a win in terms of what they got, but what they lost may ultimately end up costing us more in the long run.

Let’s start with the good news. Biden has been saying for months that he would only accept a clean debt ceiling hike — no conditions, no spending reductions, nothing. Like every debt ceiling fight in modern history, that statement came with an expiration date, and in the final analysis Biden folded like a cheap suit.

Instead, Biden will get his debt ceiling increase, but he had to give back unspent COVID funds, had to agree to freeze spending increases everywhere except the military, and his militirization of the IRS got its funding reduced. Those are all wins for Republicans, and McCarthy should be proud of those wins.

The more ardent conservatives in the House are not happy, but a compromise is going to make the extremes on both sides unhappy, and McCarthy has whipped enough votes to pass the bill — or so he says.

However, not all is roses and perfume here. McCarthy didn’t increase the debt ceiling — instead he suspended it altogether until 2025, well after the election. In practice, this means that Joe Biden will manage to escape any challenges to spending until after the election. McCarthy essentially handed Biden a get-out-of-jail-free card on the topic of spending just before a Presidential campaign that will largely turn on the economy.

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Nor is the bill as “certain to pass” as McCarthy claims. Republican Chip Roy is making a big move to stall the bill in the Rules Comittee, keeping it off the floor and away from a final vote. If that move succeeds, it will force McCarthy and Biden back to the negotiating table, and all bets are off.

We’ll see what happens over the next few days. In either case, what we all knew would happen has happened. While we have a debt limit in principle, in practice there is no end to how much the US Government will spend.





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