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Time Magazine 25th October 2021 Double Issue

AS SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH McConnell mulled blocking Democrats from raising the nation’s debt ceiling, he faced two scenarios. Neither was good. In the first, the U.S. could default on its debt, triggering a global recession and costing Americans millions of jobs. In the second, Democrats could get rid of the filibuster to raise the ceiling without GOP help and create a Senate where the party in power—notably, not McConnell’s—could prevail with a simple majority vote. So McConnell relented, agreeing on Oct. 6 that Republicans would allow a temporary extension of the debt ceiling to the end of the year. (A vote to that effect passed in the Senate on Oct. 7, and in the House of Representatives on Oct. 12.) But the deal McConnell offered shouldn’t be confused with magnanimity. With Democrats in control of the House, the Senate, and the White House, he is maneuvering to extract as high a political price as possible for helping avoid a financial crisis. The debt ceiling is a vestige of World War I, created to curb unlimited spending on a conflict that many Americans would have preferred to sit out. It requires lawmakers to vote periodically to raise the amount of money the government can borrow to pay bills and has been lifted by both parties as a routine matter for most of the last century. (The ceiling has been raised 78 times since 1960.) But in 2006, lawmakers started to use what had always been a procedural vote as a way to virtue-signal. That year, Democrats—including then-Senator Joe Biden—used a debt-ceiling vote to lodge an election-year protest against President George W. Bush’s tax cuts and heavy military spending. In the end, Democrats allowed the hike to clear without getting their way, but it started a nasty political habit. Over the next 15 years, the debate around the debt ceiling careened into the partisan her. In 2011, the new GOP majority in the house led a revolt over the Obama Administration’s spending, and the threat ended the nation’s first-ever default; ultimately, Obama signed a deal that reduced deficits by more than $2 trillion without any new taxes. Two years later, House Republicans linked a looming default deadline to scrapping Obama care. In that case, McConnell stepped in to help negotiate a climbdown, and the republicans retreated Time Magazine 25th October 2021 Double Issue


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