McCarthy Pushes More Work Requirements for Medicaid and SNAP in Debt Talks

With the US simply two weeks away from a doable default on its debt for the primary time ever, President Joe Biden has minimize brief a visit to Asia to proceed negotiations with congressional leaders in Washington over lifting the federal authorities’s debt ceiling. Republicans are in search of main finances cuts, in addition to new work necessities for recipients of Medicaid and the Supplemental Vitamin Help Program, also referred to as meals stamps, however distinguished Democrats are pushing the White Home to face agency. For extra, we converse with The American Prospect’s Robert Kuttner, who says the debt ceiling deadline and finances negotiations later this 12 months are half of a bigger effort by Republicans to shred the social security web.


This can be a rush transcript. Copy might not be in its remaining type.

AMY GOODMAN: With the US simply two weeks away from presumably defaulting on its debt for the primary time ever, President Biden says he’s reducing brief his Asia journey with the intention to proceed negotiations with congressional leaders over lifting the debt ceiling.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: It’s disappointing that in our discussions the congressional Republicans haven’t been prepared to debate elevating revenues, however the coverage variations between the events mustn’t cease Congress from avoiding default. I made clear once more in at this time’s assembly that default isn’t an possibility. America pays its money owed, pays its payments, and there’ll be loads of time to debate the coverage variations. However the nation has by no means — we’ve by no means defaulted on our debt, and we by no means will.

AMY GOODMAN: On Tuesday, Biden met with Home Speaker Kevin McCarthy and different congressional leaders on the White Home, however little progress was reported. That is McCarthy.

SPEAKER KEVIN McCARTHY: The wonderful thing about that is, in our invoice, Restrict, Save, Develop, not solely can we develop our economic system, we get extra individuals into the workforce by work necessities, elevate individuals out of poverty. It helps our provide chain, makes us much less dependent upon China, decrease the power value. That helps with the atmosphere all over the world, lowers the CO2 emissions globally.

AMY GOODMAN: Republican Home Speaker McCarthy continues to push for sweeping finances cuts, in addition to new work necessities for recipients of SNAP — that’s the Supplemental Vitamin Help Program.

Democratic Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania stated Tuesday he, quote, “can not in good conscience assist a debt ceiling proposal that pushes individuals into poverty.” Democratic Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated Biden can, quote, “count on pushback on almost any important concession.” In the meantime, Democratic Congressmember Jamaal Bowman of New York stated, quote, “I’m annoyed that we even have to interact in these conversations as a result of it offers credibility to what Republicans are attempting to do, which is just about maintain the worldwide economic system hostage to pretend as if they’re fiscally accountable once they’re not.”

Effectively, for extra on all of this, we’re joined by Robert Kuttner, the co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect. He wrote a piece Tuesday headlined “The Price range Farce: A Travesty in Two Acts.”

Bob, welcome again to Democracy Now! Begin off by speaking about the place these finances talks are, what not elevating the debt ceiling would imply, and why you’re calling it a farce.

ROBERT KUTTNER: Thanks. And it’s nice to be again with you, Amy.

OK, let’s again up two steps. So, on January nineteenth, the US technically reached the congressionally accredited restrict within the nationwide debt. This occurs on a regular basis. And as a result of a bunch of gimmicks, they had been in a position to maintain paying curiosity on the debt by the month of Might. June 1 is usually acknowledged to be D-Day, when the federal government can now not pay curiosity on the debt, and the entire world economic system explodes, as a result of there’s about $20 trillion value of Treasury bonds on the market on this planet that anchor the world economic system. And most of the people assume that is simply inconceivable.

So, for the primary 97 days, Biden didn’t negotiate with McCarthy, as a result of McCarthy hadn’t handed a invoice. And the White Home calculated that the Republicans had been so break up that the Republicans wouldn’t be capable to cross their model of a finances. Then McCarthy made every kind of offers with the far, far, far proper and handed this type of loopy invoice that mainly ties a rise within the debt ceiling to finances cuts of trillions of {dollars}, about 22% of home spending.

Now, it is a full nonstarter from the standpoint of nearly each Democrat within the Home or Senate. This put Biden in a little bit of a tactical bind. Do you, on the one hand, proceed to say, “That is loopy. I’m not going to barter”? Or do you undergo the motions of negotiating, as a result of Wall Road and the media and a few company Democrats are saying, “Effectively, at the least you must attempt in good religion to see for those who can attain lodging”? As a result of, clearly, it is a idiot’s sport. It’s a farce. It’s a charade.

So, my criticism of Biden — and I ought to say I’ve been comparatively favorable to Biden. I imply, he was a pleasing shock. He was extra progressive in loads of his appointees than we anticipated. However Biden is screwing up the ways of this, as a result of he’s mixing his message. On the one hand, he’s saying, “Look, that is nuts. We’re not going to barter,” however, however, succumbing to the stress to appear to be he’s negotiating, he’s going by the motions of negotiating. And you’ll’t have it each methods.

Bowman is correct: There’s no means Democrats are going to vote for 22% cuts in home spending. And by the best way, it’s not simply SNAP. It’s Medicaid. It’s Medicaid. McCarthy desires work necessities for Medicaid. So, image any person in a Medicaid nursing residence, which is the most important single supply of Medicaid outlays. You already know, “Sorry, Grandma, you’re 90 years outdated, and you’ve got dementia, however you’re going to should exit and work.” That is nuts. And it might be significantly better strategically for Biden to maintain declaring simply how nuts that is.

AMY GOODMAN: I needed to learn from New York Occasions columnist Paul Krugman, who slammed Democrats, writing, quote, “As quickly as Republicans took management of the Home final November, it was apparent that they might attempt to take the economic system hostage by refusing to lift the federal debt restrict. In any case, that’s what they did in 2011 — and onerous as it might be to imagine, the Tea Celebration Republicans had been sober and sane in comparison with the MAGA crew. So it was additionally apparent that the Biden administration wanted a technique to move off the looming disaster. Increasingly, nonetheless, it seems to be as if there by no means was a technique past wishful considering.” They’re speaking about, properly, we’re not linking one to the opposite, these are two separate conversations. What do you say to that, Bob Kuttner?

ROBERT KUTTNER: Effectively, two issues. Primary — and this has been very extensively reported, and Biden is mixing his message on this, as properly — you possibly can invoke the 14th Modification, as a result of after the Civil Conflict, a clause within the 14th Modification specifies that the debt of the US shall not be questioned. Now, that was put in there to forestall some future Congress from repudiating the Civil Conflict debt, if, you realize, individuals who had been pleasant to Dixie ever acquired management of the U.S. Congress, which, tragically, they did. However that’s very broad language. And it wasn’t till 1917, throughout World Conflict I, that Congress even contrived this ritual of getting a separate vote on the debt ceiling. The preexisting premise was that if one thing has been negotiated and obligations have been incurred, it’s simply computerized that the debt is elevated.

So, the betting is that if Biden had been to invoke the 14th Modification clause and say, “Effectively, we’re simply going to maintain on paying payments, and if the Republicans wish to sue us, go forward,” individuals who have regarded fastidiously at Supreme Court docket precedents assume that at the least 5 members of even this Supreme Court docket would uphold Biden.

So, sadly, Biden has spoken out of either side of his mouth on this. He stated, yeah, he’d think about it, however it might take too lengthy. In truth, that’s not true. There could be expedited Supreme Court docket evaluation of this. Janet Yellen, unhelpfully, has stated, “Oh, that will trigger a constitutional disaster.” So, Biden can’t management the messaging of his personal staff, and he can’t even management his personal messaging, which form of reinforces the view that perhaps he’s too outdated to run for president once more, however that’s one other — that’s one other dialog.

Now, there’s one other a part of this, which is the extremely silly precedent of 2011, the place two separate issues had been combined up, conflated by Republicans: the difficulty of accelerating the debt ceiling — and once more, that’s usually simply routine — and the difficulty of utilizing that leverage to extract draconian finances cuts. The Republicans actually rolled the Democrats that point. And in 2011, they handed one thing referred to as the Price range Management Act, which had 10 years of obligatory cuts, with a sequester system to implement computerized cuts if Congress can not agree on the small print. And right here’s absolutely the worst half: The emissary of the Obama administration who negotiated this horrible take care of his outdated buddy Mitch McConnell was a man named Joe Biden, the vp on the time.

And so, there are two methods of the place Biden is now. Both, as a result of he loves to chop offers, he’s in peril of recapitulating, repeating the actually dumb technique of 2011, or, conversely, you can say, properly, issues are totally different now. He’s president. He’s acquired $5 trillion of spending to defend. That is his legacy. And if he can simply determine the best way to maintain his strains straight, perhaps he’ll dangle powerful.

AMY GOODMAN: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has dismissed the proposal to mint a $1 trillion platinum coin to maintain the U.S. from defaulting on the nationwide debt, and stated the Federal Reserve is unlikely to contemplate it. In The Wall Road Journal interview this previous January, Yellen stated, quote, “It really isn’t by any means to be taken as a on condition that the Fed would do it, and I feel particularly with one thing that’s a gimmick. … The Fed isn’t required to just accept it, there’s no requirement on the a part of the Fed. It’s as much as them what to do.” Is that this a gimmick, Bob?

ROBERT KUTTNER: Let me put it this fashion: It’s a tactic. I feel invoking the 14th Modification might be a greater tactic. And given the loopy issues the Fed has finished with rates of interest and with failing to control banks, I wouldn’t belief the Fed. So, I’d quite see President Biden invoke the 14th Modification. I feel that in all probability would cross muster with the Supreme Court docket. It might clear up the disaster for now.

However the different factor I identified on this article is, even when we get by the June 1st deadline for rising the nationwide debt, then the following installment on this two-part farce is the fiscal ’24 finances negotiations. The present finances expires on September 30, 2023, and then you definitely’ve acquired to barter subsequent 12 months’s finances. And the issue is that Democrats management the Senate very, very narrowly. We acquired Manchin, Sinema. So, they only barely management the Senate. And, in fact, Republicans barely management the Home. However given the truth that you might have divided management of Congress, it’s nearly sure that there will likely be some finances cuts within the 2024 finances.

Now, as any person who thinks that Invoice Clinton was one of many worst issues ever to occur to the Democratic Celebration and the nation, it pains me to credit score Invoice Clinton for something. However in ’95, ’96, when Newt Gingrich was speaker and the Republicans performed this sport of holding the debt ceiling hostage after which shutting down the federal government, first for six days, then for 15 days, Clinton hung powerful. And it was Gingrich who needed to collapse. Gingrich ultimately misplaced his speakership. The truth that Gingrich made a idiot of himself by shutting down the federal government really helped Clinton get reelected.

So, that’s the function mannequin. If the president hangs powerful and lets the federal government do silly issues, like threatening the collapse of the world economic system or shutting down the federal government, the Republicans take the blame for that. And I simply hope that when this — if Biden will get by June, he’s going to face a model of this once more in October, though, granted, shutting down the federal government isn’t fairly as catastrophic as shutting down the world economic system. However I hope he reads his historical past. I hope he retains his strains straight. And if he can dangle as powerful as Clinton did, perhaps it will rebound to the good thing about the Democrats, and the finances cuts is not going to be all that catastrophic.

AMY GOODMAN: And eventually, for those who might simply underscore — we simply have a minute — how this connects and deepens inequality on this nation?

ROBERT KUTTNER: Effectively, the entire components that the Republicans wish to minimize from the finances are issues that make this a barely higher nation, every part from Part 8 housing support to Medicaid to meals stamps to varsity support. I imply, the so-called discretionary home applications, these are the issues that make the nation a barely much less unequal place. And, in fact, as you’d count on, that’s the stuff that the Republicans are concentrating on for the steepest cuts.

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Kuttner, I wish to thanks for being with us, co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect. We’ll hyperlink to your piece, “The Price range Farce: A Travesty in Two Acts.” Bob Kuttner’s newest guide is titled Going Massive: FDR’s Legacy, Biden’s New Deal, and the Wrestle to Save Democracy. Robert Kuttner can also be a professor at Brandeis College’s Heller College.

Subsequent up, “The U.S. Ought to Be a Pressure for Peace within the World.” That’s the headline of a full-page New York Occasions advert signed by 15 former high-ranking nationwide safety officers calling for a diplomatic finish to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. We’ll converse with the lead signatory, Dennis Fritz, retired command chief grasp sergeant of the U.S. Air Pressure. Stick with us.

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