Nobody knows what Kablooie will be, exactly.
The fuck-tussle over the debt limit continues on in its inexorable stupidity today, with Republicans continuing to insist they won't act on what's normally a simple matter of authorizing the USA to keep borrowing to pay its national debt, which has been accumulated under presidents and Congresses of both parties. Why? Because Rs are in the minority and they can, is about it. There's the minor detail that if the debt limit isn't increased or suspended, the nation's credit rating will be downgraded, with ripple effects throughout the US and world economies that would likely cause a global recession, but on the other hand, Republicans have the ability to make Democrats be the responsible adults in the room, plus they're confident that any bad news would hurt Democrats more anyway.
Now, Democrats could raise the debt limit on their own, without a single vote from Republicans, by using the budget reconciliation process. As the Source of All World Knowledge explains, that's perfectly cromulent under the weird Senate rules governing reconciliation, and wouldn't get in the way of Democrats' also using reconciliation to pass the Build Back Better bill this year as well. But Majority Leader Chuck Schumer doesn't wanna, for a number of reasons we discuss here, so he's not talking about reconciliation except as a last resort.
Schumer will instead hold one more vote this afternoon on a bill to suspend the debt ceiling until December 2022, safely after the midterm elections. There's no reason at all to think that Republicans will allow the bill to go forward. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), that very moderate gent, has already said he'll vote to filibuster, and fellow GOP "moderate" Susan Collins (R-Maine) has offered an innovative not-quite-a-deal where if Democrats simply give up on Build Back Better bill, then maaayyybe some Republicans might vote to prevent the economy from collapsing, out of the goodness of their hearts and a sense of bipartisan comity.
Oh, fuck both of yez. As Steve Martin said, comity is not pretty.
So what happens after Minority Leader Mitch McConnell denies Debt Ceiling Jesus a third time, and the cock crows? As those fun kids at Punchbowl News (brought to you by Chevron) explain, there are several possibilities, and nobody knows which door the big prize, a 1973 AMC Pacer and no economic disaster, is behind. One thing that's fairly certain is that Schumer will have to cancel next week's scheduled recess, since Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the government will be flat out of funds to pay its debts by October 18.
Last night, President Joe Biden said there's the possibility that Senate Dems may have little choice but to carve out an exception to the filibuster rule for the debt limit, which would be one way to get the issue over and done with, and permanently, at that. But as with other calls to change the filibuster rules, there's a Joe Manchin-shaped roadblock in the way. Manchin has remained adamant against going nuclear on the filibuster, and as Punchbowl News points out, Manchin "told reporters to 'forget the filibuster' Monday because there are other ways to lift the debt limit" — i.e., reconciliation.
The punch bowlers also suggest that, whatever any carve-out or exception or one-time coupon that expires immediately after use might be built into such a measure, it would ultimately mean the end of the legislative filibuster, to which we say "Good!" We aren't all that frightened by the nightmare scenario Punchbowl lays out:
Remember this McConnell quote from March? "Let me say this very clearly for all 99 of my colleagues: Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin -- can even begin -- to imagine what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like," McConnell said on the floor. "None of us have served one minute in a Senate that was completely drained of comity, and this is an institution that requires unanimous consent to turn the lights on before noon."
Think about that. Democrats could win this round, and even pass their broader reconciliation package. But Republicans would drag out every other procedural move for the rest of the 117th so as to make the Senate practically unworkable. It would be a war.
Ah, as opposed to the perfectly normal way the Senate currently operates?
Still, any filibuster modification would require the support of Manchin, who already seems to be skeptical when reconciliation remains an option, and Kyrsten Sinema, who remains as much a mystery as the secret eel breeding grounds. Maybe holding off until the default deadline would change their minds, but that seems a dubious gamble. If it worked, wow, Democrats might pass some stuff, but that feels like a fantasy still.
So that would leave reconciliation, which is what Mitch McConnell wants, and which, as Schumer has said, would require a lot of work and could still be subject to GOP fuckery. Politico looks at the possibility that if Schumer knuckles under and agrees to raise the debt limit that way, some Republicans might even allow the process to move fairly quickly to avoid a default. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) told Politico that forcing Dems to use reconciliation would be satisfying enough, without risking economic canned-clamity: "I mean, I'm not going to be a complete asshole about it. But I'm going to make them take some tough votes."
While Graham says he won't be an asshole, Ted Cruz says he's committed to being Ted Cruz. Asked if he'd refrain from delaying tactics if Democrats go the reconciliation route, he said only, "It would depend on the circumstance," explaining that, for the good of the Republic, Schumer must suffer for having the Senate majority:
"The only end place for this political theater is going to be complete surrender by Chuck Schumer, and he knows this," Cruz said.
Cruz is just that kind of good-government sort of guy, you see.
So there's no telling! Maybe reconciliation, maybe a filibuster carve-out, maybe 10 Republicans will decide to act like adults, or maybe Donald Trump will be reinstated and abolish the Senate. It's a very interesting time to be alive.
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First she'll send the Idaho National Guard to Texas. Then TO THE MOOOOON!
Idaho may have only a fraction of the population of Florida or Texas, but by Crom, we do our level best to make up for it in random acts of crazy bullshit. We seem to have more than our share of rightwing crazies, from the North Idaho Nazis who got sued out of business decades ago to the rabid anti-Semite who's running for a seat on a school board this year — with the local GOP's endorsement. The joke in Idaho has always been that we have a two-party system: Conservative business-oriented Republicans, and full-on crazy conspiracy-theory Republicans. Idaho Gov. Brad Little is one of the former. And Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin is very much one of the latter.
Unlike in some states, the governor and lieutenant governor do not run together as a ticket, so it's not all that surprising that McGeachin is gearing up for a primary challenge against Little next year. Just to emphasize that she's running well to the right of Little, whenever he leaves the state, McGeachin has taken to using her momentary power as acting governor to sign some crazy and probably illegal executive orders. In late May, when Little attended a Republican Governors Association conference in Nashville, McGeachin issued her very own executive order banning all mask mandates in the state. Little rescinded it as soon as he returned.
This week, while Little flew down to Texas to meet with other Republican governors to whine about the "crisis" at the border, McGeachin again issued a symbolic executive order on the pandemic, this time banning vaccine mandates and mandatory testing for infections. While she was at it, McGeachin tried to call up the Idaho National Guard and send troops to the US-Mexico border, only to be rebuffed by the Guard's commanding general. So everything's very normal here, all righty.
McGeachin, following the example of America's One True President, issued her executive order on Twitter, saying she had "fixed" Little's April ban on vaccine passports, which had applied to all state agencies. McGeachin's "improvement" extended the ban to include public schools and universities, and also banned agencies and schools from even requiring employees be tested, since the Founders believed all Americans must spread viruses freely if they want. While she was at it, McGeachin also prohibited any private employer from mandating their workers be be vaccinated or tested, because apparently free enterprise means telling businesses what to do.
McGeachin also took advantage of Little's absence to try ordering the National Guard to the border, writing a letter to Major General Michael J. Garshak advising him that
As of Wednesday, my constitutional authority as Governor affords me the power of activating the Idaho National Guard [...] As the Adjutant General, I am requesting information from you on the steps needed for the Governor to activate the National Guard.
Garshak, who knows from chain of command and what a legal order is, sent back a one-paragraph reply noting that he was "unaware of any request for Idaho National Guard assistance under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) from Texas or Arizona" and reminding the acting governor that "As you are aware, the Idaho National Guard is not a law enforcement agency."
It did the job, but might have been more impressive, historically resonant, and diagnostically accurate had Garshak sent back a message simply reading "NUTS!"
Politico points out that in June, Little had already sent a group of Idaho State Police members to the border to assist with "intelligence gathering and investigative work to stop drugs from coming across the border," because drugs at the US-Mexico border are such a huge crisis in Idaho.
Little issued his own hilarious statement on Twitter, vowing to rescind any executive actions McGeachin took while he was away:
I will be rescinding and reversing any actions taken by the Lt. Governor when I return. https://t.co/iBuQqX1R5i— Brad Little (@Brad Little) 1633470697.0
I am in Texas performing my duties as the duly elected Governor of Idaho, and I have not authorized the Lt. Governor to act on my behalf.
Before I even left the state, the Lt. Governor unabashedly requested information from the Adjutant General to deploy our National Guard to the border, the same place I am visiting today to work with my fellow Republican governors on solutions to the crisis. Attempting to deploy our National Guard for political grandstanding is an affront to the Idaho constitution and insults the men and women who have dedicated their life to serving our state and the country. The crisis at the border is something I take very seriously. That is why this summer I worked closely with the states of Arizona and Texas to determine the most impactful way to support their mission, and I sent a specialized team of Idaho State Police troopers to support drug interdiction efforts at the border. The people of Idaho can be assured that as their duly elected Governor, I will continue to fight this important issue.
Paragraph breaks, Governor, please.
We really like the part where Little castigates McGeachin for "political grandstanding" by trying to deploy the National Guard while he was out of the state on his own grandstanding visit to the border, which by contrast was totally necessary and serious and appropriate.
As of yet, Democrats in the state legislature have not called for all state officials to undergo mandatory irony recognition training.
While a number of Republican officials have condemned McGeachin's stupid little stunt, we have no doubt she considered it a huge success for her own campaign. A lot of Idaho wingnuts are still extremely angry with Little because in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, he actually ordered a lockdown in Idaho, complete with closures of "non-essential" businesses and prohibitions on in-person church services. Little never issued a statewide mask order, leaving that up to municipal and county governments, but he never banned mask mandates, either.
McGeachin, on the other hand, embraced the pro-virus crazy wing from the get-go, participating in a bizarre anti-public-health video sponsored by the far-Right Idaho Freedom Foundation, in which she posed with a Bible and a gun in the cab of a survivalist van. Clearly, she sees no electoral downside in trying to out-crazy establishment Republicans like Little.
Will it work? Crom only knows! Idaho's business-suite Republicans have always had the advantage in cash and support, especially among the state's influential and affluential LDS community (which, we'll remind you, also supports public health). But the crazy wing in Idaho politics keeps getting crazier, and might end up taking over, as has happened in so many states. As the pandemic continues to fill Idaho hospitals and morgues, there's still plenty of time for the state to swing crazier.
And hell, we haven't even had a good Muslim-baiting panic over Afghan refugees yet.
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Trying to get 'Republican obstructionist' points is irrelevant when everyone blames Dems anyway.
Americans sometimes believe some weird things, like thinking the moon landings were faked, that a malaria drug can cure COVID-19, or even that you can sit in a bathtub as the water goes out and not be sucked down the drain, a pernicious myth that has led to countless tragedies. So it shouldn't be too surprising that a new Politico/Morning Consult poll shows that if the US were to default on its national debt, more Americans say they would blame Democrats than would blame Republicans.
The poll, taken between September 18 to 20, asked respondents, "If the United States were to default on the national debt, would you tend to blame the Democratic party more, the Republican party more, or both parties equally?" Thirty-three percent said they would blame Democrats, and only 16 percent would blame Republicans. Irritatingly, a whopping 42 percent said they'd blame both parties equally.
That's just kind of maddening to people who've been paying even the least bit of attention. Mitch McConnell, after four years of routinely suspending the debt ceiling to add some $8 trillion in debt for Donald Trump, has instructed Senate Republicans not to agree to any increase in the debt limit now that a Democrat is in office. It's a cynical political move that merely threatens to throw the US economy back into recession, probably taking the rest of the world with it. So this is absolutely not in any sense a "both sides" thing.
Happily, it's fairly safe to say that this polling shouldn't really be giving Republicans any ideas about riding this debt thing to victory in the 2022 midterms, for several reasons. For one thing, most people are not political junkies who watch Rachel Maddow and know that the debt limit is a stupid law passed because Congress was cheesed at getting involved in World War I just months after Woodrow Wilson campaigned on the slogan "He kept us out of war." The debt limit has never once prevented deficit spending or reduced that national debt, but nobody's paying attention but us geeks.
As a rough barometer of how much Americans pay attention to politics in a non-election year, we'd also note that in the same poll, nearly a quarter (23 percent) of respondents said they knew "nothing at all" about the recent California recall election.
But most Americans do know that Democrats have the presidency and slim majorities in Congress, so if they're asked about virtually anything involving government, of course they'll say "Democrats" or "both sides."
That's certainly the analysis put forward by Sen James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), who seemed fairly tickled Democrats might take the blame for his party's fuckery:
"The American people will say, 'I'm mad at everybody'," Senator James Lankford told Reuters. "But I don't know that it becomes the fault of the group that's in the minority in the House, in the minority in the Senate and not in the White House."
That said, there's not much chance Republicans will get the chance to blame Democrats for crashing the economy, because everyone in both parties knows, as we've discussed earlier, there's no way in hell Democrats are going to allow a default.
This week, House Democrats passed a bill suspending the debt ceiling through the end of December 2022 and also funding the government for three more months, to prevent a government shutdown and an eventual debt default. Now that bill goes to the Senate, where McConnell is likely to block it. But for all the talk of fiscal Armageddon if the US defaults on its debt, it's just not going to happen, because Democrats are the good responsible Student Council kids who actually care about governing.
If they really can't get 10 Republican votes next week to avoid a filibuster, Democrats will raise the debt limit via the budget resolution process. As the Source of All World Knowledge explains, that's perfectly cromulent under the weird Senate rules governing reconciliation, and wouldn't get in the way of Democrats' also using reconciliation to pass the Build Back Better bill this year as well.
So why haven't Dems just gone ahead and raised the damn thing, to take it out of the news? The reasoning we've seen is that Dems want to give Republicans a chance to be bipartisan first (and to have a talking point about Republican obstruction when R's filibuster). Also, a bipartisan bill would allow the debt limit to be suspended, while reconciliation would require the ceiling to be raised to a specific number, which Republicans could then wave around in campaign ads about those spendy spendy Dems next year. Maybe someone would care?
Frankly, we think it would probably be better for Dems to just pass the debt limit increase by reconciliation right now and get all the gloom and doom scenarios off the news sooner, because if that Politico/Morning Consult poll demonstrates anything, it's that voters aren't really paying attention to any of this crap anyway, so how about removing it from the conversation altogether. Whatever small political points might be gained by painting Republicans as obstructionists probably won't outweigh the effects of pundits fretting about default, and in a year, nobody is likely to remember any of it anyway.
But we are not political consultants, so we guess it may be another week or so until Democrats get there.
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Girl, you know he can't change.
Dean Heller is back, baby! After getting crosswise with Trump, he got turfed out of his Nevada Senate seat in 2018, losing to Democrat Jacky Rosen by five points. Womp womp.
Heller could have run against Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who is up this cycle. But that weirdo Adam Laxalt already got the Mar-a-Lago endorsement after assiduously flogging Trump's lies about vote fraud in the Silver State, so Heller set his sights on the statehouse, where Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak is running for another term.
"Something happened, something changed. It was called 2020. 2020 happened, bad politicians started making bad decisions. We had mass lockdowns mandated by this governor, rioting throughout major cities and small businesses destroyed," he said at an event Monday to announce his candidacy, the Nevada Independent reports. "And I said to my family, 'Enough is enough. We have to do something about this.' So we're here today because I believe it's time to fire Steve Sisolak."
Sure you did, buddy. This wasn't just rank opportunism hoping to capitalize on unhappiness with COVID lockdowns to assuage your ego after a humiliating loss.
"Everybody thinks they're an expert, everybody thinks they're a scientist. That's what's going on out here," he scoffed to the Las Vegas Review Journal. "And every one of these scientists change their opinions every two weeks. So what are we to rely on except people's common sense?"
Heller is doing his damnedest to keep sweet with the MAGAsphere this time around, announcing a spate of ultraconservative positions pitched to appeal to GOP primary voters.
He announced his support for Texas's abortion laws and promised, "As governor, I'll get the most conservative abortion laws that we can have in this state, regardless with who's controlling the Legislature at the time." Which is a promise he can keep, if you squint just right at it, since Nevada voters passed a referendum in 1990 enshrining the right to an abortion before 24 weeks pregnancy into law. And in case the legislators got any bright ideas, those voters made it so the statute could only be changed by yet another referendum. So, hooray, that one is factcheck true!
He also promised to enact voter ID laws by executive order, conveniently bypassing both houses of the legislature where Democrats dominate. Also conveniently, he forgot that the current Republican position is that Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution vests sole control over elections in state legislatures, and thus it is illegal for the governor or secretary of state to have any role in running them.
And on the most important issue, he's right where he should be — which is lying his ass off.
"We made it easier to cheat in future elections," he complained Monday, promising that when he's governor, "you're not going to wonder if elections are fair." (Ask Brian Kemp how that one worked out.)
He kept up the refrain at a press conference on Tuesday, saying, "We're talking about changing the outcome of an election. We're talking about changing by manipulating the process," adding later that "the last time Nevada had a safe, secure election in this state was when I was secretary of state."
Note that, for all his concerns about keeping elections safe, Heller is not running for secretary of state. Nor is he saying exactly how he thinks the election was unsafe under the vote by mail regime passed by both houses of the state legislature and signed by Gov. Sisolak.
Heller was similarly mute on the subject of exactly who is president of US America in year 2021 of the Common Era.
"I know who the president of the United States is, we're not arguing that. What I am arguing is the process and how we got there," he said Monday, adding later that "After the 2020 election, most Republicans believe President Trump had won that election. This is chaos and this chaos continues over and over."
GOSH, DEAN, WONDER WHY THEY THINK THAT.
And he was at it again on Tuesday.
"I still know who the president is," he said, doggedly refusing to name said person, "but I do believe we have a problem with elections."
Well, it's going to be a crowded GOP primary. Better pucker up good and hard, dude, there's a lot of Trump ass-kissing to be done between now and June 14, 2022.
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