WASHINGTON—After weeks of tense squabbling between the White House and House Republicans, a fiscal deal to curb federal spending and raise the debt ceiling was reached on Saturday, leaving a bipartisan group within the heavily partisan party. President Joe Biden’s claim of being the only one capable of action has been strengthened. era.
But the price is for many within the party who have little desire to meet with a centrist Republican party and who believe the president cannot stop giving them much in the eternal and ephemeral quest for consensus. will criticize Now, his influence over other Democrats needed to pass the deal in Congress will be tested.
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The agreement in principle he struck with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy represents a case study in President Biden’s rule, his first since the 2020 primary, when he defeated progressive rivals to win the Democratic nomination. underscores underlying tensions in the leadership of the Biden believes he can get his hand across the aisle, even at the expense of some of his own priorities.
Since taking office two-and-a-half years ago, he has repeatedly made the case as skeptics doubt bipartisan flexibility is still possible. Most notably, Congress passed a bipartisan public works program devoting $1 trillion to building or upgrading roads, bridges, airports, broadband and other infrastructure. Legislation expanding treatment for veterans exposed to toxic burns. And all investment programs to boost the domestic semiconductor industry were passed by Republican votes.
But now is not the time for bipartisan positions to be as important as they were when Biden passed the Senate in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. His desire to establish himself as a leader who can bring a deeply divided country together is central to his arguments for a second term next year. But he sees great political interest in standing firm against former President Donald Trump’s Republican Party, and he hopes to draw a clearer contrast in his 2024 election to retake the House of Representatives. It runs counter to the interests of many Democrats who think so.
“This deal means a compromise that no one can get everything they want, but that’s the responsibility of governance,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Sunday night.
Most importantly from Biden’s perspective, the deal will result in a catastrophic national default that could cost many jobs, crash the stock market, jeopardize Social Security payments, and disrupt the economy. is to be avoided. He assumes that Americans will appreciate mature leadership that doesn’t bet on the health of the nation’s economy.
But many on the political left are upset that, in their view, Biden has succumbed to McCarthy’s hostage strategy. The president, who said the debt ceiling was “non-negotiable,” ended up negotiating it to avoid a national debt default, largely ignoring the fiction that negotiations over spending limits were somehow separate. didn’t even do it.
Liberals stiffen Republicans by arguing they have the power to bypass the debt ceiling under the 14th Amendment, which says that the federal government’s “public debt legitimacy” is “irrefutable.” He pressured Biden to avoid the debt ceiling altogether. But while Mr. Biden agreed with the constitutional interpretation, he concluded that the risk of defaulting on the national debt while the issue was being fought in court was too high.
So, much to the dismay of his allies, negotiations in recent weeks have been entirely on Republican terms. The final deal, which has yet to be revealed in detail this weekend, did not include Mr. Biden’s new fiscal policies, such as higher taxes on the wealthy and wider discounts on insulin. The question was essentially how much of the Limit, Conserve, and Grow Act passed by House Republicans last month in exchange for a higher debt ceiling.
But Biden managed to ditch the Limit, Thrift, and Growth Act from its original content, much to the surprise of conservative Republicans. Instead of imposing a 10-year hard cap on discretionary spending and raising the debt ceiling in less than a year, the deal would tie the two together so that the spending limit would last only the same two years as the debt ceiling hike. Republicans argued that the limit would be based on the 2022 spending level, but the spending adjustment effectively puts it on par with the more favorable 2023 benchmark.
As a result, the deal would cut projected spending over the decade to a fraction of what the Republicans were asking for. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the cap passed by House Republicans last month would cut discretionary spending by $3.2 trillion over 10 years. A rough estimate by The New York Times suggests the cuts could be less than a third of that amount if Mr. Biden and Mr. McCarthy reach a deal.
Moreover, while Biden did not advance many of the Democrats’ new policy goals in his deal with McCarthy, he effectively shielded much of what he achieved in his first two years as president from the Republican efforts to emasculate him. rice field.
The Republican plan would rescind many of the clean energy subsidies Mr. Biden put into the Inflation Control Act, eliminate additional funding for the IRS to pursue the tax misconduct of the wealthy, and kill millions of Americans. It was supposed to block the president’s plan to forgive $400 billion in student loans to None of that was included in the final package.
Indeed, IRS regulations provide an example of Biden’s trading decisions. As a concession to Republicans, he agreed to cut about $10 billion a year over two years from the additional $80 billion allocated to government agencies over the next decade, most of which is sought by Republicans. It will be used to avoid further cuts in discretionary spending. Republican.
One of the most sensitive areas for Biden’s progressive allies is Republican arguments to impose or expand labor requirements for recipients of social safety net programs such as Medicaid, food aid and welfare payments to families. was. Mr. Biden, who backed labor requirements on welfare in the 1990s, initially said he would consider Republican proposals, but faced a fierce backlash from Democrats.
On Friday night, even as the deal was nearing completion, the White House issued a statement slamming Republicans for trying to “take food out of the mouths of starving Americans” while maintaining tax cuts for the wealthy. Announced. Rebellious liberals are attacking hardline conservatives.
Biden and McCarthy’s final agreement does not include Medicaid work requirements, but raises the age to 54 for those who must work to receive food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Veterans and homeless requirements have been removed. The agreement relaxes Republican provisions to expand temporary assistance labor requirements for needy families.
The challenge for Biden now is to pitch a compromise to fellow Democrats. Just as Mr. McCarthy knows he may lose dozens of Republicans to disappointment in his own considerations, so too does the president believe that many within his own party are on the final bill. I expect you to vote against. But building a bipartisan majority would require bringing in enough Democrats to offset the Republican defection.
Connecticut Democratic Rep. Jim Hymes summed up the reaction of many within his party. “Nothing in the bill is a priority for the Democrats,” he said on “Fox News Sunday,” pointing to health care, climate change and other issues. There is nothing in the ,” he added. “
But he also added that Biden cut back on the final deliverable. “The reason this bill has some support among some Democrats is because it’s a very small bill.”
The criticism-sensitive White House sent briefings and issues to all House Democrats within minutes of the deal Saturday night, followed up by phone on Sunday. In a brief meeting with reporters later that day, Mr. Biden rejected criticism from Democrats who feared he was exposing too much. “They will realize I didn’t,” he said. Asked about concerns that working conditions would adversely affect people in need of food, he said: “That’s a ridiculous claim.”
Biden has been here before. As Vice President, he served as President Barack Obama’s chief negotiator in several financial showdowns, but he enraged his fellow Democrats who thought he gave too much away to then-Senate leader Harry Reed. Congressman (Nevada) effectively banned Mr. Biden in 2013. From negotiations over raising the debt ceiling.
Of course, kicking the vice president out of the room is another story. Biden is currently president and is entering his re-election year as party leader. It’s his room. And like it or not, he manages it his way.
Circa 2023 New York Times