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The PERFECT solution for any fellow Democrat unhappy with Biden’s budget deal
The winning strategy
Some Democrats are happy with the budget deal President Biden reached with the House GOP —some are not. No one should be surprised. After all, we are Democrats—we never all agree on an issue, nor should we. I’ve often joked that if you have two Democrats in a room discussing an issue you will hear three opinions. We are a nuanced, demanding, policy driven bunch—and that is a big reason why I’m proud to be a Democrat.
With that said—as I wrote about Sunday—I believe the deal President Biden reached with the House GOP is good one. Now that we have the text of the bill—together with seeing the outrage of MAGA Reps to the proposed deal—I feel that even more strongly. Of course, no one is happy with the new work requirements added for SNAP recipients (Food stamps) but these only impact so-called able-bodied adults who are 49 to 54 and do not have children. (This work requirement was already in place for the same people up to 49 years of age.) Per the Congressional Budget Office, this provision will apply to just about 7 percent of the more than 40 million food stamp recipients. In addition, the deal actually expands food stamp access for veterans, homeless people and young adults transitioning out of the foster care system.
But for my fellow Democrats who object to this, or the spending freeze or cutting a portion of IRS funding, etc., there is an easy solution: Win the House back in 2024 while holding on to the White House and Senate. Then these compromises can be rolled back.
To be clear, I don’t say that in a way to mean, “Stop objecting to the deal” or “Love it or Leave it.” Please keep objecting to provisions you don’t like—again, we are Democrats!
Rather, I sincerely mean that in the way of setting a very realistic goal of retaking the House in 2024 to address any failings of this deal. The GOP only holds a slim five seat majority in the House and there are 18 House Republicans representing districts that Biden won in 2020. In fact, just last month the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced an aggressive plan to flip 31 House seats from red to blue in 2024.
Taking a step back, there are some Democrats—and I was among them as I wrote last week—who urged President Biden to not negotiate with the GOP over the debt ceiling and instead invoke the untested, yet legally plausible approach of invoking Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to authorize the Treasury Dept to pay bills above the $31 trillion debt ceiling. I’ve seen some of my fellow Dems criticizing Biden after the deal was announced for even negotiating with the GOP over the debt ceiling.
But Biden—and this may seem like semantics for some--made it clear on Thursday that the negotiations were no longer focused on the debt ceiling to pay past debts but rather about a forward-looking budget. That is why Biden stated Thursday: “I want to be clear that the negotiations were happening with Speaker McCarthy is about the outlines of what the budget will look like, not about default.”
The President repeated that very point Sunday evening at his press conference announcing the deal when asked by a reporter: “You said at the beginning that the debt ceiling was not negotiable. Isn’t that what you’ve just done here?” In response Biden stated, “You guys — look, we’re not negotiating the debt ceiling,” explaining that he told GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy that he would not agree to any conditions in exchange for a debt ceiling increase--and McCarthy agreed. At that point the two then began to focus on a 2024 budget spending deal. Biden continued, “If you want to try to make it look like I made some compromise on the debt ceiling, I didn’t,” adding to drive home the point, “I made a compromise on the budget.”
Again, I get that could sound like semantics or even just spin. But as a reminder, Biden was making that very point on Thursday while mid-talks. In Biden’s view, the GOP leaders had agreed there would be no debt ceiling default meaning from then on the talks became about the 2024 budget. When that happened, compromise was the only option given the GOP controls the House—the chamber were all spending bills must originate as mandated by Article 1 of the Constitution.
That doesn’t mean Democrats can’t be unhappy with the proposed budget deal—it just means compromise was necessary given the GOP won the House in 2022.
Of course, Democrats could win back the House--plus retain the White House and Senate—and still not everything most Democrats support will become law. We saw that very scenario playout in 2022 when Democratic Senator Joe Manchin blocked Biden’s sweeping “Build, Back Better” proposal to expand the social safety net. (This is the same Manchin who somehow was able to get into the proposed budget deal approval of the remaining permits needed for the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline that would carry West Virginia shale gas to the East Coast!)
The details of this budget agreement may change before it is voted on. And we are seeing MAGA Reps desperately trying to scuttle the entire agreement. As we know, the reason MAGA wants to undermine the deal is not because they sincerely believe in no budget deficits. These are the very people who supported Trump’s deficit busting tax cut for the wealthy as well as massive Covid spending when Trump was in office. Rather, as President Biden rightly noted last week, some MAGA House Reps want to cause a default to tank the record breaking economy because that will help Trump win in 2024.
However, winning elections is the best way to effectuate change—including rollbacking any compromises in this deal that the Democratic base doesn’t support. And the best part is that the 2024 election is only a little over a year away!
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