Last night, Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden, after a reported hour-and-a-half phone call between the two, concluded a deal in principle that had been mostly worked out by their negotiating teams, to raise the national debt ceiling in exchange for spending and other measures sought by the former Party of Lincoln.
It appears that with the details of the deal that were leaked over the last ten to twelve hours, worries about President Biden and his team’s (Budget Director Shalanda Young and Counselor to the President Steve Ricchetti) negotiating skills (including those slightly expressed by myself in an earlier piece) may have been premature, and pundits who credited Kevin McCarthy and his allies for their abilities to steer an agreement that strongly favored their MAGA- Trumpist-Terrorist priorities may have been duped.
While Speaker McCarthy and his principal negotiators Representative Garret Graves and Patrick McHenry fed journalists daily narratives of how they were holding out for Trumpist-MAGA principals, the deal in principle that was concluded by both sides last night (May 27, 2023) shows how successful President Biden and his team were in beating back MAGA-Terrorist Demands.
The MAGA Terrorists wanted to extend the debt ceiling for only one year at about a trillion and a half dollars.
The deal calls for extending the debt ceiling until January 2025 for more than twice that amount.
The MAGA Terrorists wanted to cut spending in nondefense and veterans domestic programs by 22 percent. They also wanted spending caps for either six or ten years.
In the current deal, spending levels in those areas will be capped at 2023 levels for the next fiscal year and rise by one percent in 2025 with caps expiring after that.
The MAGA Terrorists wanted to stop the President’s Student Loan Forgiveness plan and repeal the key components of the Inflation Reduction Act like the energy tax credits and the $80 billion in funds to help the I.R.S. go after tax cheats.
The current deal, as reported, does not touch the Student Loan Forgiveness Plan although Republicans are probably counting on the Supreme Court, fresh off gutting portions of the wetlands part of the Clean Water Act this last week, to do their dirty work for them. The Energy Tax Credits, probably in a trade-off for a streamlined permitting process for energy production, stayed. The Administration has only promised to cut about twenty billion dollars from their I.R.S. enforcement budget.
The MAGA Terrorists wanted to impose onerous work requirements on people on Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps,) and Welfare.
While the details on the new welfare work requirements have not been leaked yet, there will be no work requirements on Medicaid, and the new ones on SNAP (raising the age to report work from 50 to 54) are fairly modest and will expire in 2030 unless Congress and the President at that time decide to renew. Furthermore, exemptions for members of the veterans and homeless community were incorporated into the new SNAP requirements.
While the Biden team did not get any revenue-increasing measures in the deal, it is clear from the details that have been released that for all the criticism (including again from this writer) that the President was not out in front enough every day framing the narrative of these negotiations, it appears that his strategy of working behind the scenes to secure the best deal possible for Democrats in this period of divided government has worked.
“Earlier this evening, Speaker McCarthy and I reached a budget agreement in principle.
It is an important step forward that reduces spending while protecting critical programs for working people and growing the economy for everyone. And, the agreement protects my and Congressional Democrats’ key priorities and legislative accomplishments.
The agreement represents a compromise, which means not everyone gets what they want. That’s the responsibility of governing.
And, this agreement is good news for the American people, because it prevents what could have been a catastrophic default and would have led to an economic recession, retirement accounts devastated, and millions of jobs lost.
Over the next day, our negotiating teams will finalize legislative text and the agreement will go to the United States House and Senate. I strongly urge both chambers to pass the agreement right away.”
The road to passage in Congress starts now.
Expect more Democrats to vote for this measure than Republicans whose MAGA-Terrorist-Chaos Caucus members are already whining and threatening “war” about the details that have been released.
Even MAGA-loving Senators like Mike Lee of Utah (expect others like Rand Paul not to be too far behind) are threatening to delay the process. It will be interesting to see if Enemy of the People Mitch McConnell can corral his own MAGA members.
The fight is not over yet.