Will Nevada’s Mark Amodei be among Republicans stepping up to save us all from wrack and ruin?
To be fair, Mark Amodei didn’t vote to raise the debt limit three times while Trump was president. He only voted to raise it twice. (Photo: Richard Bednarksi/Nevada Current)
During the Trump administration the federal debt ceiling was raised three times, twice when Republicans controlled the House and once after Democrats won it back.
Now that Republicans control the House again they are refusing to vote to raise the limit unless Joe Biden and congressional Democrats agree not only to accept 22% budget cuts of the dumbest, laziest kind – across the board – but also to repeal policies Democrats worked long and hard to enact fair and square.
So some people are calling House Republicans hypocritical.
It’s not entirely fair. For instance, Mark Amodei, the only Republican in Nevada’s congressional delegation, didn’t vote to raise the debt limit three times while Trump was president.
He only voted to raise it twice.
So he’s not a total hypocrite. If anything, he’s only 66.6% of one.
Earlier this week Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned Congress that if it doesn’t raise or suspend the debt ceiling, the U.S. government could go into default as early as the end of the month.
Economists and other sober observers who are not House Republicans have issued multiple warnings of dire consequences if the U.S. fails to pay its bills, including late or curtailed Social Security payments, and/or a failure to fund Medicare or deliver veterans benefits.
Federal payments for lots of other things could also be in jeopardy. Do you own a business or work for one that does contracting with the federal government? Good luck.
A default would also be expected to crash markets, so good luck with your retirement accounts and other investments, too, if you have any.
You think interest rates have been getting higher? Once the U.S. goes into default, today’s interest rates will seem like the good old days.
Within six weeks, according to estimates from Moody’s Analytics, 7 million jobs would be lost and the economy would shrink by 4%.
“It would be a body blow to the economy, and it would be a manufactured crisis,” Bernard Yaros, an economist at Moody’s, told CNN.
The Moody’s guy is wrong. It’s already a manufactured crisis. The debt ceiling is an idiotic construct. Whatever useful purpose it might have once served long ago, after decades of being all but ignored and routinely revised, a new function was thrust on it in the early 90s: Provide elected officials – almost always Republicans – an opportunity to throw temper tantrums and threaten to wreck the economy unless they get what they want.
Like Amodei and his House Republican colleagues are doing now.
How about passing legislation of their own?
Last week they passed a bill that would raise the debt limit. All Biden and Democrats would have to do is agree to cut and then freeze non-defense discretionary spending to levels that were in place last year. For ten years. The bill would also repeal policies that Biden and Congress passed prior to Republicans taking control of the House, including clean energy incentives (of which Nevada politicians of both parties seem quite enamored), and the increased staff for the long under-staffed Internal Revenue Service (effectively assuring the IRS has no choice but to continue letting rich and corporate scofflaws go along their merry way while everybody else pays their taxes).
Amodei issued an Amodeian statement declaring his total adoration for the bill he voted for that by many accounts would cut, among other things, veterans programs.
“As usual, rather than working with the House majority on a reasonable solution to our nation’s debt crisis, President Biden’s handlers along with Senator Schumer have demanded that Congress raise the debt ceiling without implementing any changes to how the government spends and borrows trillions of dollars,” Amodei said.
As Amodei knows (presumably), the debt ceiling (which serves no useful purpose) has nothing to do with “how the government spends” its money. It merely allows the government to continue to pay for spending that Congress has already approved.
If Amodei and his fellow Republicans would like to change “how the government spends and borrows trillions of dollars,” all they have to do is quit letting the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Donald Trump set an agenda that scares the bejesus out of everyone but the Republican base, win control of White House and Congress by appealing to a broad cross-section of the electorate instead of the sliver of it they’re pandering to now, and then pass their own legislation.
Like Biden and Democrats in Congress did.
And like Trump and Republicans did before that, when they also raised the debt ceiling not once, not twice, but thrice, each time with broad bipartisan support.
Meanwhile, rather than gut their achievements and slash veterans programs because Marjorie Taylor Greene told House Speaker and noodle of a man Kevin McCarthy to say that’s the plan, Democrats would prefer to raise the debt ceiling (which serves no useful purpose) in a similarly bipartisan fashion. But there’s no way MTG will let her house-trained noodle bring such a bill to the House floor, so Democrats have to find a workaround.
In January, when McCarthy was surrendering unconditionally to MTG & Co. in order to win the House speakership on the 15th vote, Democrats were thinking about the misery and despair that would ensue if the fate of the economy in the U.S. and beyond ended up hinging on perpetually petulant House Republicans.
So House Democrats quietly, even stealthily, set the wheels in motion for a “discharge petition,” by which under complicated House rules they can possibly – possibly – get what would be a bill to raise the debt ceiling discharged from the committee it got assigned to, so the full House can vote on it. They would need five House Republicans to (literally) sign on.
When the debt ceiling was raised during the Trump years, the measures were passed with dozens of House members from both sides. Democrats don’t expect that to happen. But, to reiterate, they only need five Republicans – five responsible, sane, adult Republicans who are not afraid to put their nation’s public interest ahead of MTG’s social media strategy.
Amodei seems to fancy himself a responsible, sane adult. In another, pre-Trump era, maybe he was one. Over the years he was often characterized as a “moderate.”
But that was then. If – and it might be a big if – five (or more?) Republicans stand up for reason and support the discharge petition, the chances that Nevada’s very own Mark Amodei will not be among them is substantially higher than, well, 66.6%.
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