Opinion | The debt ceiling deal

The deal hammered out between Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy isn’t perfect. It could have been much worse.

By Hayes Brown, MSNBC Opinion Writer/Editor

The House voted on Wednesday night to pass the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the bill codifying the deal between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to raise the debt ceiling. The final vote — 314 — 117, with Democrats providing the majority of the votes in favor — highlighted just how much the final agreement changed versus when the GOP passed its “Limit, Save, Grow Act” in April.

With just days before a June 5 deadline that would have left the U.S. unable to pay its bills, there’s been no time to spare in actually getting the deal through Congress. Tellingly, the vote reflects the fact that the deal is bipartisan in the sense that it’s gotten votes from both parties, not that it is a win for both parties equally. Likewise, it is a compromise in that only some Americans will have their lives impacted for the worse. The alternative was either a massive hole Republicans tried to cut into the social safety net with their original bill, or widespread economic chaos a default would have caused.

In all, though, it is clear that the bill could have been much worse. The Republican priorities it contains have been significantly pared back and there are a few Democratic priorities that were unexpectedly worked into the deal. 

First, the deal raises the debt ceiling until Jan. 1, 2025.

The bill includes federal spending caps for the next two fiscal years.

The bill further rescinds about $28 billion in unspent Covid relief funds.

Politics aside, the bill as passed is one based on a principle that government should do the least harm possible while benefitting the most. In this case, a decision was made to only hurt some people rather than allow a debt default that would have hurt everybody. Of course, the “some” isn’t ever the wealthy, whose tax rates were never at risk of rising thanks to Republicans shielding them. Predictably, the burden falls on the poor and needy, who are expected to be grateful they get any help at all.

Source: Opinion | The good, the bad, and the ugly of the debt ceiling de

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