Debt Ceiling Reminder for Democrats: ‘You Can’t Negotiate With Terrorists’

Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams

U.S. progressives escalated their warnings this week as they accused House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of holding the debt limit “hostage” in service of the GOP’s pro-billionaire agenda, while urging President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats to firmly oppose GOP legislation linking any debt ceiling increase to painful spending cuts targeting poor and working people.

As the clock ticks toward what would be an unprecedented and catastrophic U.S. debt default, McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Republicans are hoping to force Biden to the negotiating table to discuss their newly passed Limit, Save, Grow Act, which progressive watchdog Accountable.US warned, if passed, would inflict “extreme, harmful cuts against average Americans to protect billionaire tax breaks.”

Although the bill would raise the federal government’s arbitrary borrowing limit in order to avert default, it would also limit non-military domestic spending over the next 10 years while enacting fossil fuel-friendly energy policies, restricting regulations, imposing work requirements for social programs, blocking President Joe Biden’s student debt relief plan, and rescinding Internal Revenue Service (IRS) funds earmarked for fighting tax-dodging by ultra-wealthy and corporate tax cheats.

“Kevin McCarthy and the House GOP are holding the federal [government] and the U.S. Constitution hostage,” Talking Points Memofounder and editor-in-chief Josh Marshall tweeted Friday. “They have issued a series of demands and said that if their demands are not met they will force the U.S. government into bankruptcy for the first time in almost 250 years.”

“Here’s how they plan to do it,” Marshall continued:

Congress already passed a law requiring Joe Biden to spend money to run the federal government. The GOP House now proposes to make it illegal for President Biden to get the money he needs to buy the things Congress passed a law forcing him to buy. This isn’t budget-making. It’s just more parliamentary terrorism. It will crater the U.S., crater the global economy, violate the U.S. Constitution and imperil the U.S.’ privileged role in the global order.

“But you will hear lots of reporters say that since Kevin McCarthy has now sent out a list of demands from the bank vault where he’s holding the hostages that he’s done the responsible thing and Joe Biden must negotiate with him because McCarthy is acting in ‘good faith,'” Marshall wrote.

“There’s no such thing as good faith hostage-taking,” he added. “There’s no responsible way to engage in parliamentary terrorism.”

“You can’t negotiate with terrorists,” Marshall stressed. “There’s an actual budget process where these questions get hashed out. That’s for next years budget. It’s not a good faith negotiation if one side has a gun to the hostage’s head. We shouldn’t let anyone forget that’s what’s happening.”

Marshall’s tweets echoed remarks by other progressives.

“What the Republicans are doing is they’re taking our economy and the global economy hostage,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) told HuffPost on Thursday. “I think that there is time to have budget negotiations and have those conversations but they should not be tied to raising the debt ceiling.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said earlier this week that the GOP bill will be “dead on arrival” in the upper chamber.

Likewise, Biden said Wednesday that he is open to talks with McCarthy, “but not on whether or not the debt limit gets extended.”

“That’s not negotiable,” the president added.


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