The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

The Debt Ceiling Crisis Is Just Politics

So, let’s state what should be obvious.

  1. Republican Presidents since Reagan have all increased the deficit more than Democratic ones.
  2. Republicans have always raised the debt ceiling when Republican presidents are in charge; therefore,
  3. The “debt ceiling crisis” is just partisan politics and has nothing to do with the deficit
  4. Republicans and many Democrats want spending cuts which affect ordinary people, rather than repealing tax cuts or, say, cutting the “defense” budget.
  5. Biden’s record is that he likes the idea of cutting things like social security; so…
  6. A lot of Biden’s “resistance” is Kabuki
  7. The constitutional argument is unclear, but as a practical matter, the Supreme Court cannot enforce a decision which says the debt ceiling is constitutional.
  8. So, ultimately, whether the President decides to obey the debt limit is entirely a political decision, he can easily say that based on the constitution he has no right to do so-he must pay all obligations.
  9. If Biden does ignore a Supreme Court decision it will increase the disintegration of the current political order and set a precedent.

I would note that the idea that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of constitutional issues was not clear to the founders, and is something the court arrogated to themselves. It is not clear that they should have that power.

As for the rest, Biden will do what he wants to do.


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  1. NR

    If Biden caves on this, his presidency is effectively over. But there’s another element to this whole fiasco too, and that’s that it’s very likely that McCarthy won’t have the votes in the House to pass whatever deal he might hammer out with Biden. Some House progressives have said that they don’t think McCarthy is just a few votes short, either. I’ve seen speculation that over 100 House Republicans won’t vote for any debt ceiling deal at all.

    So that means that McCarthy would have to get over 100 House Democrats to vote for the deal. And I’m skeptical that that many would vote for a deal that has draconican cuts to the social safety net. There are certainly some who would vote for it, but that many?

    My hope (and I realize that this many not happen) is that enough House progressives vote against any deal and it doesn’t pass. That would leave only two options–either the House passes a clean debt ceiling lift (unlikely), or Biden does something unilaterally. If he invokes the 14th Amendment that would of course go to the Supreme Court.

    Dunno, it’s a mess.

  2. VietnamVet

    This is all very strange being on the edge of debt default in midst of a proxy World War III. In the past, Congress would do what Wall Street wanted like 2008. Except, there is just enough democracy left so that radical Christians voted themselves a block of hundred true believers.

    Since globalists have used divide and conquered minorities to rule North America, there is nothing left to compromise. In fact the class/caste hatreds and ignorance are so profound that they make Partition very likely unless a secular constitutional democratic republic is restored.

    I expect the 14th amendment to be used and the Supreme Court order ignored in order to keep paying the bills to the oligarchs and corporations. Healthcare, Schooling, Public Safety, Social Security and Pensions will be cut. In the end, WWIII, shortages, and a BRICS commodity currency will devalue the US dollar so much that liquidity freezes.

    Secession will proceed forward, with Ron DeSantis and Elon Musk, pulling Florida and Elon’s home state, Texas, out; despite Twitter’s Presidential Launch “horrendous tech failures” today.

  3. different clue


    Clinton got just enough House Democrats to vote for NAFTA to get it passed. Whatever he had to do to find them or create them, he got it done.

    I think Biden (or his Thinking Brain Dogs) will try doing the same. If Biden ( or his Thinking Brain Dogs) are half the man Clinton was, he ( they) will get the Catfood Plan passed in the House and passed in the Senate so Biden can sign it.

    And they will call it a Great Compromise which saved something.

    And they will call it good.

    I don’t know what kind of torture and terror would terrorise and torture the Democrats into not giving the Catfood Bill enough votes to pass. Hopefully someone can apply it. I would rather see the AmericaGov default than to see the Catfood Bill pass.

  4. NR

    different clue:

    I don’t know, there will be huge pressure from the media on Democrats to vote for the deal, as if it’s somehow their responsibility. What they need to do and what they should do is tell the Republicans “this is your deal, you have to provide the votes to pass it.”

    Remains to be seen if they’ll do that, though.

  5. NR

    Oh and Ian, there is one point you didn’t consider: while Biden could ignore a Supreme Court ruling and tell the Treasury to keep issuing bonds, those bonds would carry more risk than the ones authorized by Congress, and their interest rates would have to reflect that.

    That may still end up being the best option, but it’s something else to keep in mind.

  6. StewartM

    I’m more with NR on this. I think there will be some CoVID claw-back of funds (not good at all) but not much more than that. And that McCarthy will have to rely on D votes to get it through. I was watching Warren Buffet yesterday on this, and he predicted something akin to this (he also called the debt ceiling ‘one of the stupidest things he’s seen in the history of US politics’, or something similar).

    Biden doesn’t get a pass, as he should just say straight-up front that he’ll invoke the 14th amendment on June 1st if there is no deal. The argument against this is that there could be injunctions, but does any court actually want to throw the US into default? I don’t think so.

    The Ds as a whole don’t get a pass either, as there have been ample opportunities to forever neuter this threat (but Joe Manchin wouldn’t vote for it at the end of 2022, and of course, Dianne Feinstein won’t resign and relinquish her seat to someone who can attend to vote). There are plenty of Corporate/ConservaDems who also like to use the debt ceiling to complete the destruction of the New Deal.

  7. different clue


    The DemParty leaders spent the decades since 1980 doing a slow purge of all traces of New Dealiform-type people from their party ranks. The last New Dealish type of people I can think of in the House are maybe Debbie Dingell and maybe Marcy Kaptur. No others. Not one. Oh . . . . there are some younger performative progressives and some cultural leftists, but that isn’t good enough.

    Most of the DemParty office-holders are Catfood Democrats. They supported Obama’s Grand Catfood Bargain. They would have gotten it too, if some TeaPublicans weren’t too partisanly proud to permit a Democratic President to be the one who pulled the Nixon-goes-to-China on Social Security. And the Catfood Democrats want a Catfood Democrat to be the one who destroys Social Security. They don’t want the Republicans to have that honor.

    Since re-conquering and declintaminating the DemParty would be a many-decades-long project, and we don’t have many decades left to get something done for ourselves, I would suggest limiting our electoral energy and attention to one little finger. The rest of our effort should be on better-greenculture entrenchment, survivalism ( including civic survivalism where possible), etc.

  8. Feral Finster

    Um, Duh.

    Note how the bond markets are reacting with a *yawn*.

  9. Seattle Residen

    If Biden comes to an agreement with the republicans that averts default yet condemns seniors to drastic social security cuts and work requirements, it’s likely that his Presidency would be finished. Old people vote, and f*cking with their social security is one of the few things they’re capable of remembering.

  10. Richard Holsworth

    “Social Security is back in the news. Some Republicans are angling to reduce benefits, while Democrats are posing as the valiant saviors of the popular program.”

    “More than any other single institution, Social Security keeps the United States from becoming a truly Dickensian world of poverty and despair”

    Debt ceiling news: Demands Republicans are making

    Biden has countered this demand for steep cuts to domestic programs with a proposal to freeze this year’s spending levels next year, but McCarthy has so far rejected that.

    “I don’t think I’m asking the impossible,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “Let’s spend less money in the coming year than we spent this year.”

    The debt limit offers cover for the Bidens of the world.
    United States debt ceiling – Wikipedia
    As of January 2023 Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen supported legislation to abolish the debt limit, which President Biden has ruled out.

    “Democrats and Republicans pretend to be brandishing clenched fists at each other, but they really are shaking hands across the barricades.”

    BIDEN’S FIXATION on cutting Social Security dates back to the Reagan era. One of Ronald Reagan’s first major moves as president was to implement a mammoth tax cut, tilted toward the wealthy, and to increase defense spending. Biden, a Delaware senator at the time, supported both moves. The heightened spending and reduced revenue focused public attention on the debt and deficit, giving fuel to a push for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
    In the midst of that debate, Biden teamed up with Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley to call for a freeze on federal spending, and insisted on including Social Security in that freeze, even as the Reagan administration fought to protect the program from cuts.

    “When I argued that we should freeze federal spending, I meant Social Security as well; I meant Medicare and Medicaid; I meant veterans’ benefits; I meant every single, solitary thing in the government.” — Joe Biden defending the proposed balanced budget amendment, January 1995

  11. different clue

    @ Richard Holsworth,

    So . . . Biden was an early Catfood Democrat and has been a Catfood Democrat for decades.

    And what does Biden care if signing Catfood Cuts to Social Security ends his Presidency? He knows his family will be well taken care of . . . . millions of dollars worth of well taken care of.

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