Once again, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has given us a pleasant surprise.
According to the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have reached an agreement in principle on legislation to increase the nation’s borrowing authority and avoid a federal default.
Negotiators are now racing to finalize the bill’s text. McCarthy, R-Calif., said the House will vote on the legislation on Wednesday, giving the Senate time to consider it before June 5, the date when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the United States could default on its debt obligations if lawmakers did not act in time.
While many details about the deal are unknown, both sides will be able to point to some victories. But some conservatives expressed early concerns that the compromise does not cut future deficits enough, while Democrats have been worried about proposed changes to work requirements in programs such as food stamps.
Oh, don't be silly, AP.
McCarthy came out the winner in this, given that the Democrats consider compromise, any compromise, with Republicans a moral failure. Republicans in their book are sinners, Nazis, monsters, so any compromise with Republicans is selling one's soul to the devil. They couldn't compromise to get their underwear changed.
McCarthy, though, somehow got the deal done, which, on objective grounds, tells us he knows how to skillfully play his cards to compromise.
Republicans, of course, say they don't like compromise, either, but there had to be one to avoid this debt default.
What we saw here was an actual compromise, not a cave-in, which is what compromises that have been sold to the GOP voters in the past as compromises really were.
What did McCarthy get for us?
According to AP:
TWO-YEAR DEBT INCREASE, SPENDING LIMITS
The agreement would keep nondefense spending roughly flat in the 2024 fiscal year and increase it by 1% the following year, as well as provide for a two-year debt-limit increase — past the next presidential election in 2024. That’s according to a source familiar with the deal who provided details on the condition of anonymity.
The agreement would fully fund medical care for veterans at the levels included in Biden’s proposed 2024 budget blueprint, including for a fund dedicated to veterans who have been exposed to toxic substances or environmental hazards. Biden sought $20.3 billion for the toxic exposure fund in his budget.
Republicans had proposed boosting work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents in certain government assistance programs. They said it would bring more people into the workforce, who would then pay taxes and help shore up key entitlement programs, namely Social Security and Medicare.
UNSPENT COVID MONEY
The agreement would rescind about $30 billion in unspent coronavirus relief money that Congress approved though previous bills, with exceptions made for veterans medical care, housing assistance, the Indian Health Service, and some $5 billion for a program focused on rapidly developing the next generation of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
Keeping spending flat on non-defense costs for the next two years is the most impressive part of this. Democrats wanted to spend to the moon. Republicans can be just as bad, as they like to spend, too. Nonstop federal spending is where inflation comes from. Polls show that voters want this crap stopped. McCarthy didn't reverse it, but he got it stopped. That's a big one.
One thing he did reverse, which wasn't noted in the AP report, was the monster rise in IRS tax enforcement spending, the $80 billion that's supposed to go after a few hundred billionaires, who, in the mind of Joe Biden, are all tax cheats who need investigating. We all know what that was about -- going after the little guy -- the waitress who underreports tips, the food truck owner who takes his income from construction workers in cash. McCarthy got $10 billion at least shaved off. Not huge, but surely it will keep a few of those armed IRS agents from going after the immigrant owner of the local dry cleaner with guns blazing.
Veteran care was also important to many Republicans, given the number of homeless vets on the streets addicted to drug and alcohol, in stunning contrast to all the federal money lavished out for illegal immigrants' various comforts. It's a mainstream view that people who fought for our country ought to get priority over foreigners who haven't put a dime into our system. And once again, why the heck does a private charity like "Tunnels to Towers" need to exist
? Gravely disabled vets should all be handed free handicapped-adapted housing and medical care for their disproportionate service. This vet care in this bill should at least help.
Third on the AP list is work requirements for idle single adults who take food stamps and other aid. This isn't single moms balancing babies and work, it's idle single adults who otherwise hang out and get into trouble. Given the problems seen in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and the like, we know that some kind of money is allowing this kind of criminality. Creating a work culture should tamp down at least some of the problem. Democrats, of course, have been incensed by this, but we all know that they like their blue cities as they are. Normal voters don't.
Lastly, unspent COVID relief money was a biggie that McCarthy got through. Never has a government program seen so much fraud and michief, given that not only a lot of COVID money has been stolen or misappropriated, it's also created inflation. Deciding not to print up another $30 billion for a now-ended pandemic is a drop in the bucket, but it's a good drop, a move in the right direction, and McCarthy should claim his credit.
What Republicans lost on -- Biden's $10,000 - $20,000 student loan relief -- is a nothingburger because the courts are going to shut that illegal giveaway down. The GOP won't need to lift a finger to get rid of it. That's the best kind of compromise for the GOP. Score another for McCarthy.
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has an excellent writeup about the debt deal, and I see it the same way he does -- that McCarthy emerged as the winner here
On a holiday weekend when people are paying the least attention, Joe Biden finally cut a deal with Kevin McCarthy
to raise the debt ceiling and end a game of chicken that Biden and Democrats lost months ago. House Republicans didn’t get everything they wanted, but Biden and the Democrats didn’t get anything
they wanted except to limit the embarrassment:
But come on … they won. Biden and Chuck Schumer lost this weeks ago, and now they just caved. It would not surprise me if the Democrats knew this was coming all along, and they merely waited for a holiday weekend to give them enough cover to pull the trigger.
As I said, utterly predictable. Just like the way we knew McCarthy would win, because — again — he won the moment he got the debt-ceiling hike through the House. He forced Biden and Schumer to negotiate on his terms, and he kept enough of them to matter. We’ll have more on the deal as it comes together, and as the media tries to spin it any other way.
Those are smart green political eyeshades reasons.
What I saw was that McCarthy knew and played the polls as they were sharply in his direction. He went for the things the voters wanted.
He also, unlike Biden, got in front of the cameras every chance he could get to sell the deal to voters. That's smart politics. The Democrats knew it was smart politics, which is why it enraged them. But he kept doing it anyway as top Democrat Joe Biden hid out during much of the ordeal.
McCarthy knew what he was doing.
What's more, he learned the lessons laid out for Republicans by President Trump: To go with the people. To keep them informed. To not back down on substantial points. To cut a deal, but make sure the right side comes out on top. In other words, "Winning," as President Trump liked to say.
That's a good lesson for other Republicans: Follow the Trump "winning" model and there will be winning.
Image: U.S. House Photography, via Wikipedia // public domain