A Debt Ceiling Deal, If You Can Keep It
News broke Saturday evening that Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the handlers for our fake Sock Puppet POTUS had reached an “agreement in principle” on a deal to extend the federal debt ceiling.
Ok, so, here’s what is and is not in it:
A 2-year raise in the debt ceiling, so congress won’t revisit the issue until 2025, safely after the November, 2024 elections. Of course.
Non-defense spending will remain “roughly flat” - whatever that means - for FY 2024, and will increase no more than 1% for FY 2025.
The New York Times reports that the deal will include some form of work requirements for some recipients of government aid programs, including food stamps and other programs, and limit the time on which individuals can receive food stamps to 54 months.
The AP and others report the deal does not include similar work requirements for Medicaid, one of the top priorities of the Republican Freedom Caucus.
The deal claws back billions in unspent COVID relief money, and cuts just $10 billion of the whopping $80 billion in increased IRS enforcement budget approved by last year’s Democrat congress.
As a sop to Joe Manchin’s re-election prospects, the deal also includes “changes in the National Environmental Policy Act that would designate “a single lead agency” to develop environmental reviews, in hopes of streamlining the process,” according to the AP.
So, what does it all mean?
Well, first, on the permitting thing, while NEPA reform is important, it is just a small sliver of all the myriad ways anti-progress activists on the political left are able to hold up energy-related projects of all sorts by abusing a variety of federal statutes. It does nothing, for example, to end efforts by activist Fish & Wildlife Agency bureaucrats to coordinate with the anti-progress lobby to hold up all sorts of projects by abusing the Endangered Species Act. The NEPA provision will be helpful, but will only make a dent in a far broader problem for our country.
Second is the question of whether either the Speaker or Senate Majority Leader Schumer can cobble together the votes to approve this specific deal. It seems likely the Freedom Caucus members will peel away to some extent. Hard to see high-profile members like Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Tayler Greene signing on, for example.
The lack of Medicaid work requirements seems especially problematic here.
On the other side, Marxist Dems like AOC and her fellow Squad members have promised to vote against any deal including work requirements of any kind. Because of course they have.
The spending caps are a nice start, but doing nothing to address the out-of-control Pentagon budget or to rein in the seemingly bottomless well of money going into Ukraine with pretty much zero accountability stinks to high heaven.
It seems probable that McCarthy will have to find a few dozen Dems willing to help him pass this specific deal. Perhaps more than that. Schumer is likely to have a tough time getting to 60 in the Senate to invoke cloture.
The politics of all this are still way up in the air. Stay tuned.
That is all.