John Micek: Republicans are the clowns of the debt ceiling circus


It’s way beyond the political cliché, but that old “Popeye” comic where J. Wellington Wimpy promises to pay a short-term cook tomorrow for a burger he intends to eat today is still how best to describe Republican intransigence on a vote to extend the national debt ceiling.

In case you missed it, Republicans in the widely divided U.S. Senate voted to block approval of new loans to pay off old debts they are complicit in accumulating.

Although quite surprisingly, the GOP’s united front on the debt ceiling is the most transparent type of political cynicism.

Senatorial Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans are pressuring Senate Democrats to use the fast-track process known as reconciliation to raise the GOP’s debt ceiling without votes. It’s the same process Democrats want to use to bypass the GOP and embrace the Democratic Biden administration’s sprawling national agenda.

With the Senate deadlocked at 50-50 and a midterm election looming, Republicans want Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and his fellow Democrats to look as bad as they can get while they seek to regain control of the 100-member chamber.

“There is no chance, no chance that the Republican Conference will do everything possible to help Democrats save their time and energy, so that they can resume partisan socialism as quickly as possible,” McConnell said as another attempt to raise the debt ceiling. flopped.

But, and this is an important but, the inescapable reality here is that McConnell and the GOP are responsible for the expenses that led to the current stalemate, and they are working as hard as they can to escape responsibility. It’s galactic dissonance for a party that has tried to present itself as a champion of fiscal responsibility.

And even that doesn’t even stand up to scrutiny.

These are the same Republicans, after all, who voted for the former Trump administration’s exploding deficit tax cut for the rich. And these are the same Republicans who voted for a two-year debt ceiling extension in 2019, according to Politico. And this monster bill has increased federal spending by hundreds of billions of dollars.

After Monday’s failed vote, Schumer rightly blamed Republicans, accusing them of “playing games with the full faith and credit of the United States,” Olson reported.

“The Republican Party has solidified itself as the default party, and it will be the American people who will pay the price,” Schumer added.

Writing in the Washington Post, columnist Greg Sargent noted that Democrats could use the budget reconciliation process to get rid of the debt limit, first imposed under President Woodrow Wilson’s administration as a means of funding the entry of the country into the First World War. , the debt ceiling has been capped at a relatively picturesque amount of $ 15 billion, according to NPR.

There is a certain beauty in this shot. But that would require Democrats to do something they’re supernaturally bad at: in fact, use the power that comes from controlling the White House and both houses of the legislature, and playing the kind of hardball it takes. to get things going.

You can say the same for Republicans. They might not run the White House or the US House, but they routinely pass above Democrats like they do.

Democrats should get rid of both the debt ceiling and filibuster – ending the paralysis of an already broken US Senate – and do the job voters elected them to do. You can bet the Republicans would do the same if they were in charge.

It’s time to take the wheels off the GOP clown car before it permanently leads the nation into the ditch.

Award-winning political journalist John L. Micek is editor-in-chief of The Pennsylvania Capital-Star in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek.

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