The Right Resistance: Will Democrats lose the government shutdown bluff over the debt ceiling?
We’re in the final week of September in the tumultuous year 2021, Democrats continue to assail America’s Constitution, institutions and traditions while trying to pass new budgets and laws that will have a disastrous, lasting impact on our country.
There’s been quite a lot of talk lately about how Democrat leaders and senile president Joe Biden might go about keeping wavering party members onboard with their schemes, but it won’t mean much if they’re unable to pass a budget continuing resolution and then raise the nation’s borrowing limit, more commonly referred to as the “debt ceiling” in the near future.
Simply put, Democrats are running out of time.
Up to this point, Republican senators under Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have stuck together in refusing to help Democrats borrow more money to fund their socialist fantasies. The majority party has brazenly ignored their responsibilities, the tugs of common sense and the views of the minority party while negotiating among themselves outside the forum of public opinion. Whether the Republicans’ unity holds is another question. For now, Democrats have all the power to raise the ceiling without Republican help, but seem to be holding out to see if the GOP will fold.
One way or another, something’s got to give. And soon.
Conservative economist Stephen Moore wrote at The Hill:
“[Biden administration Treasury Secretary Janet] Yellen and Democrats in Congress are pleading with Republicans to vote for a rise in the debt ceiling to accommodate their $5 trillion social welfare and green energy spending plans.
“The idea that Republicans are going to cause an economic catastrophe by not voting for the trillions of dollars that Democrats want to borrow is like arguing that a bank is at fault when it won’t raise the credit card limit for a spendthrift gambler who keeps losing money and can’t pay off his debts...
“Democrats insist they won’t negotiate and want congressional Republicans to vote for a ‘clean’ debt ceiling bill — without a single reform to bring down the federal debt. That sounds like unconditional surrender on the part of Republicans, not a compromise. Republicans in the House and Senate should respond, ‘Come back when you have a serious offer.’”
Don’t hold your breath on the last thought. First of all, Democrats don’t bargain. They lie, cheat, steal and demagogue, but they don’t ever bend because Republicans invariably cave under pressure, needlessly worried about the party’s prospects in the next election. It’s what the GOP historically does best, and the primary reason why an outsider like Donald Trump was so effortlessly able to take the party by storm and then defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
As Moore pointed out his piece, there was a similar debt ceiling dilemma a decade ago in the third year of Barack Obama’s first term. Republicans had just retaken the House and held together long enough to force Democrats to agree to budget caps that somewhat reduced future deficits, though both parties applied force at different times to increase government spending. The fiscal watchdog’s kennel is the loneliest place in Washington, with no treats going to the dutiful occupant. The political urgency of the moment always supersedes worry about future red ink in the swamp world.
Though something about the current impasse indicates that Republicans might actually do it this time -- namely, compel Democrats to pass a borrowing limit increase without a bipartisan vote. With slim majorities in both houses of Congress and senile Joe Biden in the White House, they certainly have the power to do so. It could be a challenge to keep Biden awake long enough to sign such a bill, but provided enough energy drinks and stimulants, they’ll get what they desire.
If Republicans do hold firm, Democrats only have a few options.
The first is to force a government shutdown, which is the least likely alternative. Democrats don’t care about government stoppages -- at all -- mainly because they know Republicans will capitulate under the intense smear and blame campaign the media will wage. No matter what the circumstances, journalists will dredge up some poor schleps who can’t buy their son an Xbox or send their daughter to ballet class because they had to use their meager remaining savings to buy bread and water to survive.
Democrats also realize that no matter how long the shutdown lasts that most federal employees will still be working and getting paid as “essential” workers. There’s no such thing as a total shutdown. If there were, Democrats would dance to the tune but still find a way to pin it on the heartless Republicans. Such events always result in prolonged paid vacations for segments of the federal workforce.
A second option would be to simply cut spending to the point where current tax receipts cover the outlays. This is the way families do it in the real world. If a household experiences a period of unemployment, they simply prioritize what gets paid first, starting with the mortgage and putting off unnecessary purchases until the rainy-day fund is replenished.
Government has never faced such a crisis because politicians order the federal reserve to print more money and add it to the national debt. But my understanding is that once the ceiling is reached, Democrats can no longer use this tactic. So, they’ll move on to the next available plug in the leaky dyke.
The third option, passing a straight party-line bill to raise the debt ceiling, is the most likely. Democrats will do so because they need to fund their programs and wouldn’t want to risk being blamed for turning off the money spigot while they had the capacity to do something to keep it flowing.
Similar to a government shutdown, Democrats don’t care about debt -- at all -- and neither does the party’s voters. Every Democrat campaign is filled with promises to provide federal dollars for every conceivable issue or project under the sun (except the military, but that’s another story). They’ll create new cabinet level departments to assure somebody’s “rights”. They’ll come up with checks for “green” industries to displace fossil fuels. They’ll appropriate big chunks for more abortions and birth control in Obamacare. They’ll create a single payer healthcare system that will supposedly mean “Medicare for All.”
They’ll fix it so squatters don’t have to pay rent due to COVID. They’ll pay people “bonuses” if they remain unemployed.
Democrats will solve the “gun violence crisis” by instituting a nationwide gun buyback plan that incentivizes firearms owners to empty their gun safes at the nearest federal collection site (yeah, right!). Or they’ll deal with gasoline emissions excesses by paying “cash for clunkers.” Anyone remember that one? Or, they’ll do away with street violence by funding “midnight basketball” for inner city kids.
And they’ll pay for all of these pipedreams by promising to make the rich cough up their “fair share.” Economists like Stephen Moore can crunch the numbers and legitimately report that there aren’t enough rich people to tax to back these ideas, but it doesn’t matter to Democrats. As long as there’s the ability to borrow more cabbage, liberals recognize no limits.
If it comes down to option three, Republicans will stand aside while Democrats summarily vote to increase the debt ceiling of their own volition. The only thing that’s stopping “Chucky” Schumer and Nancy Pelosi from doing it now is the perceived public relations hit they’ll take and the inevitability of Republican candidates running ads against “moderate” Democrats who were forced to take a position on their party’s grotesque spending binge.
All along, their argument has been, “We went along with it when Trump asked for it, and you guys are holding out on us now? What a collection of fiends you are! Smite you! Smite you!”
Here’s thinking Democrats would rather take the PR hit than let down the gimme-gimme crowd. But they’ll huff and they’ll puff and they’ll blow the Republican leaders’ doors down before this is all over.
The debt ceiling is but one minor obstacle in the Democrats’ rush to transform the former “Land of the Free” into a European-style socialist welfare state. Republicans are correct not to help them get away with it, but the question is how much damage to the already shaky constitutional framework can our country sustain?
"Clean" debt ceiling bill
$3.5 trillion Democrat reconciliation
Sen. Joe Manchin