Don't call it a debt limit deal...
This is an odd framing. It puts budget negotiations *only* in terms of spending cuts, which will be the major concession Democrats have to make.
Where are the tax increases which would be the Republican concession in a budget negotiation? Apparently, already off the table. And why? Because the clear Republican concession in this "budget negotiation" is to agree to raise the debt ceiling and avert a calamity. (Thanks, Republicans!)
In other words, it's still a hostage situation with the Republicans holding the economy hostage.
Regarding the footnote: personally, I find it much more appealing that when Biden/Democratic policies are bad, they're usually bad for a good intention. I know that also sucks, but "let's do policy X so doing what we all thought was the key to success turned out to be stupidly expensive" is at least nice. Ideally, there would also be some kind of policy to address the reasons higher ed is stupidly expensive.
The issue I have with your hypothesis, Josh, is that you are assuming that if some middle ground solution is proposed by the Problem Solvers (or whoever), that McCarthy will be able to get a majority of his caucus(es) to vote for it. If he can't, he can't bring it to the floor. Even if he can, he then runs the risk of a motion to vacate the chair from the irate members of the Freedom Caucus who won't vote for it. I worry that there are enough of them who either don't care or think it's OK to breach the limit that they will stand on their principles (such as they are).
Irony is a Republican Supreme Court telling tens of millions of debtors they HAVE to pay their debts while a Republican House of Representatives tells America's creditors they won't see another DIME.
Arbitrary as it may be - though not wholly differently from other large numbers, which all seem relatively free of information - I wonder if there's a feeling among whoever *really* cares on either side, or on the GOP side, I guess, that to eliminate the occasional genuflection to the debt ceiling, would mean the subject of the national debt never came up again (until of course, distantly, it did).
Josh: you’re adorable even discussing the debt limit. 😊
Also, the only stipulated cuts should come from the over $2 trillion in waste, fraud, and abuse in the Department of Defense: https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2022/11/22/why-cant-the-dod-get-its-financial-house-in-order/
I’m usually an optimist, but I’m alarmed this time. I think we’re going to default.
I agree with pretty much all of this. On a separate but related note, Manchin seems incredibly pissed lately. Has there been any speculation about him switching parties? I know there was bad blood between him and the White House regarding Build Back Better but then he played an integral role in passing the IRA. Now he’s talking about suing the Biden administration and repealing parts of the IRA. I get that Dems shouldn’t have pissed him off previously but he seems particularly mercurial lately. What’s the deal? I’m getting kind of worried he’s gonna flip.
I'm curious you're thoughts on this. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/02/us/politics/debt-limit-us-constitution.html
I'm sort of inclined to say that Biden should just do it. As you say the debt limit is "stupid" and as someone else has noted is a very dangerous "Chekov's gun"; it's just an idiotic dance that unnecessarily flirts with disaster*. It's also just an enormous opportunity cost situation; how much time and energy is spent on stupid debt ceiling negotiations that could be spent more productively (yes yes, with the filibuster, nothing substantially is getting put into law. But that's to me just an argument as to why the filibuster should be eliminated as well. Argument for another day).
My only real hesitation is SCOTUS. Given the partisan leanings of the Court, if someone challenged the Biden administration's ability to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling, I have real doubts how the court would rule (I'm setting aside the question of "standing"). Would the court the Court would be willing to risk their stock portfolios if they rule Biden's move unconstitutional.
If Democrats have a trifecta after 2024, as you say the move is just eliminate the debt ceiling. But even if a Republican holds the White House and Democrats hold either House or Senate (unlikely scenario given geography of Democratic and GOP votes, but at least possible), I'd fully support President Trump or DeSantis or Haley just unilaterally raising the ceiling. With Republicans in in the White House, you could basically guarantee Alito and Thomas to rule that the President must raise the ceiling because they are GOP hacks (especially Alito) and the other justices could then also vote the same way, but more based on the legal reasoning that the President can't violate the 14th amendment.
*I've wondered for months now why Democrats didn't raise the ceiling in December. The simple answer is Manchin and Sinema. But lately, given Dick Durbin's reticence to actually hold hearings on very obvious Supreme Court corruption and his bizarre insistence of reintroducing the "blue slip" rule, I'm more inclined to say that failure to raise the ceiling is a consequence of having too many politicians who are too old for the job. Namely, someone like Durbin is apparently still incredibly wedded to some 80s/90s version of politics and from what I can tell, is basically stuck in his ways and somehow doesn't recognize the Congress and government that exists today is a very different place then he remembers it. And in the 80s/90s when raising the ceiling was a much more banal procedure (though with spending cuts as you note), there are just enough Democrats who still don't recognize the danger of having this anachronism around, even if they were in Congress in 2011 when we came way too close to actually pulling the trigger on Chekov's gun.