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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

House holds its nose and approves Biden-McCarthy debt deal

The right hates it.

The left hates it.

Washington despises compromise, even when the alternative is a globally devastating default by the federal government just days away. 

Compromise in our polarized culture has become a dirty word. And grandstanding by lawmakers in both parties, who have the luxury of knowing the bill would pass anyway, has become irresistible.

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McCarthy’s reward: an attempt to bottle up the bill by two hard-line conservatives he had put on the Rules Committee as one of his concessions to become House speaker. His bigger reward: Talk by hard-liners of ousting him from the job, which under another of those concessions he made during the 15-ballot struggle can be initiated by any single House member.

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Rep. Andy Biggs called the measure “completely unacceptable. Trillions and trillions of dollars in debt for crumbs for a pittance.” Chip Roy warned that “not one Republican should vote for this deal.”

There are accounting gimmicks and fuzzy math that leave most of the budget untouched. But McCarthy is right that he won cutbacks in such areas as IRS funding and a two-year limit on spending in exchange for agreeing to pay past bills accumulated by borrowing that has left America with $31 trillion in debt. 

These battles also reek of hypocrisy. Donald Trump raised the debt ceiling three times, while adding $8 trillion to the debt, and Republicans said nothing about spending cuts. Democrats have been on both sides of the issue as well.

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This was always a manufactured crisis that would be resolved at the last minute – the only way Congress does anything – by papering things over. And that’s exactly how it played out.

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