Finally, the House Freedom Caucus has said what it will take for them to agree not to tank the U.S. and world economy by refusing to raise the debt ceiling and having the U.S. default on its obligations. The caucus has presented a list of demands. The members said that if Joe Biden agrees to all of them, they will consider not destroying the world economy. Here is a brief summary:
It is hard to imagine that even the most optimistic member of the FC expects Biden to agree to a single one of these, let alone all of them. So what's the purpose of the list? To show the base how they are fighting for conservative principles? That's all we can think of. If they were actually interested in making a deal, they would have come with a list that is at least somewhat plausible. This one is a total nonstarter. Maybe the FC thinks they have Biden in a vise and he has to give in.
That's not really the case, however. Biden would greatly prefer to make a deal than to use some "trick." The easiest route might be to get five House Republicans to vote with the Democrats. If that doesn't work, then he could simply claim that the Fourteenth Amendment means that the debt-ceiling law is in conflict with the Constitution and just ignore the law and wait to see what the Supreme Court does. He could also say that he doesn't have the authority to impound funds duly authorized by Congress so his obligation to spend money for programs Congress authorized overrides the debt-ceiling law. Or he could authorize one or more trillion-dollar coins. He is not powerless but he has to be willing to use his power.
That said, we are not yet close to default, so none of these things are currently on the table. Nevertheless, the White House reacted to the FC proposal by calling it a giveaway for the super-wealthy. Communications Director Ben LaBolt said: "This means that their plan, with all of the sacrifices they are asking of working-class Americans, will reduce the deficit by ... $0." He also said that the FC proposal would defund the police and make the border less secure. How's that for fighting fire with fire? He also criticized just about everything else in the plan. It is definitely a nonstarter, not even useful as a basis for future negotiations. Biden's budget, which we wrote about a couple times last week, was also quite partisan, but at least it could plausibly represent a starting point, since it includes some things that Republicans want, like deficit reduction and increased defense spending. (V)