Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Court Sets Debt Ceiling Hearing... for May 31

This reads like a somewhat badly written Hollywood script. The debt ceiling is scheduled to be breached on June 1, and a court has scheduled the "the debt limit is not legal" case filed by the National Association of Government Employees for May 31. You can practically hear the John Williams music playing as the judge dramatically delivers his decision, just hours or minutes before the end of Western civilization as we know it.

In reality, however, there just isn't that much drama here. To start, the judge may very well grant an injunction. In fact, we'd guess that is more likely than not. So that alone may defuse this ticking time bomb for months (or more), depriving Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) of most of his leverage. He would whine and moan about that, at least publicly, but we wonder if McCarthy would not secretly be happy, given the challenges of threading the particularly needle he's been trying to thread.

Beyond the court case, however, is the fact that just about everyone involved is acting like June 1 isn't really that big a deal. Recall that the Biden administration is never, ever going to allow the U.S. to default on its debt. Should it be necessary, the President might choose a dramatic and sexy option, like invoking the 14th Amendment or coining a $1 trillion coin. But it's considerably more likely that, if it comes to it, the administration will continue to service the debt, and will just make some decisions about what things not to pay while waiting for a resolution. Indeed, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and her staff have already been talking to federal agencies to figure out which payments can be delayed, if necessary. In that case, what the country would have, in effect, is a partial government shutdown.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, Republicans are unperturbed. Many of them don't believe that June 1 is really the drop-dead date. And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has seen a few of these rodeos in his time, yesterday told reporters to relax, and assured them there will be no default.

In short, June 1 arrives next Tuesday. Armageddon, not so much, we think. (Z)

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