Republicans are losing the debt-limit standoff
Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy will meet on Wednesday for talks on the debt ceiling. Just don’t call this powwow a “negotiation.” Biden has said he will only sign a clean bill — i.e. a no-strings-attached increase to the limit on federal borrowing. And so, as far as the White House’s public position is concerned, there’s nothing to negotiate.
A statement from the White House on Sunday described the meeting as “a discussion on a range of issues” and said that Biden “will ask what the Speaker’s plan is” and “if he intends to meet his Constitutional obligation to prevent a national default.” Biden took the same tough line last week, pledging to “veto everything they send me.”
The politics of the debt standoff will get more complicated for the president and his party the closer we get to the deadline. For now, though, the strategy is straightforward: hold firm while the other party twists in the wind.
Republicans have been doing plenty of that lately. Yesterday, it was McCarthy’s turn. He spent a Face the Nation appearance reassuring the country — and its creditors — that the US government isn’t about to default. Rather than highlighting Democratic profligacy, the debt ceiling standoff has so far been an opportunity for Republicans to spotlight their own electoral liabilities, internal party fissures and kooky policy proposals, like replacing income tax with a national sales tax and abolishing the IRS.
McCarthy has been forced to make clear that Medicare and Social Security are off the table in debt ceiling negotiations and faces a major headache over defense spending in a party divided on the matter. The headache makes clear just how hard it will be to capitalize on what is one of the House GOP’s big opportunities this Congress.
It’s still early and Republicans may yet force force Biden into a more uncomfortable position in this debt ceiling standoff. For the time being, though, there’s no question that the president and his party are enjoying things more than McCarthy.
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Will the Tyre Nichols killing lead to police reform?
The release of the horrifying footage of Memphis police officers beating Tyre Nichols to death has brought fresh calls for action on police reform — something that has been a nonstarter in Washington since bipartisan talks on the issue broke down in 2021. Eighteen months ago, it was Republican Tim Scott and Democrat Cory Booker leading efforts to come to an agreement.
Will the shocking incident in Tennessee bring lawmakers back to the table? In a statement on what he called a “vile abuse of power,” Scott said: “Let it serve as a call to action for every lawmaker in our nation at every level. The only way to bring light from darkness is to be united.” On Twitter, Lindsey Graham hinted at a compromise on qualified immunity — a crucial sticking point eighteen months ago. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are poised to reintroduce the far more expansive legislation they introduced after negotiations collapsed in 2021. The path to a bipartisan bill, i.e., a bill with a chance of becoming law, remains narrow.
Warren endorses Biden, not Harris
Elizabeth Warren endorsed a Biden re-election bid in an interview on Friday. The Massachusetts senator cited the “tremendous amount” the president had done despite having the “skinniest majority.” It’s a helpful thumbs up from an influential progressive and a sign of Biden’s strong position. Less helpful? Warren’s refusal to endorse Kamala Harris as his running mate. On that she said she wanted to “defer” to what made Biden “comfortable.” It’s a notable point for Warren to labor given Biden has said that if he is to run again, he will do so with Harris as his number two.
What you should be reading today
Daniel McCarthy: Tocqueville’s warning about the Democrats
Charles Lipson: How to stop politicians from taking classified documents
John Pietro: Baltic nations show the world how to defend freedom
Paul Schwartzman, Washington Post: Downtown DC’s struggles mount as workers remain remote
Shawn Hubler and Amy Harmon, New York Times: California has more than 100 gun laws. Why don’t they stop more mass shootings?
Frank Costigliola, Foreign Affairs: Kennan’s warning on Ukraine
President Biden job approval
Approve: 42.7 percent
Disapprove: 53.0 percent
Net approval: -10.3 (RCP average)
Has the classified document discovery changed how you think of President Biden?
Think better: 10 percent
Think worse: 24 percent
Not changed how I think: 66 percent (CBS/YouGov)