More on the Possible Deal

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Politico adds some additional information to the outlines of a possible deal we discussed in a post last night. Their outline basically matches. As I assumed, though it was not stated explicitly in the Times’ account, clawing back unused COVID relief money is part of the deal. What comes out a bit more clearly is work requirement are the remaining issue. It really appears that the rest is basically agreed to. That is a very big deal. So it’s hard to evaluate the merits of any overall agreement while that remains outstanding.

But overall Republicans are getting a lot less than what they and I think a lot of others expected. That is of course setting aside that they did get one big and really important thing: forcing a hostage negotiation over the debt ceiling. But even that is a bit more complicated and perhaps a bit less than it looks. The real key to this is that it appears to contain (again, we need to see the details) language which prevents a whole new set of demands when you get to writing an actual budget later this year.

Senator Schumer has been making this argument that they’re not really negotiating over the debt ceiling. They’re negotiating a budget and a clean debt ceiling at the same time. That seemed laughable. But now, maybe, it wasn’t that laughable. Preventing that second bite at the apple later this year is a pretty big deal.

I was just talking to a Republican friend who sees this a bit differently than I do. He thinks McCarthy did reasonably well with the hand he was playing. As we picked it apart, I think the root of the disagreement became more clear. As he sees it McCarthy always had a weak hand and the White House knew it. So this is a respectable result for him. As I understand a lot of the rage and ire of Democrats it’s this: McCarthy really doesn’t have jack. He’s got a razor-thin majority, built in large part on a bunch of crazies. But by taking the debt ceiling hostage he’s going to be able to turn back a lot of the progress of the last two years, hurt a lot of people and throttle the economy going into 2024 to boot. If that’s your standard, this is a pretty weak result. So he’s going to cheat, get a lot for cheating and you’re going to let him get away with cheating. In that sense I don’t think my friend and I were really disagreeing so much as having a different set of expectations going in.

For both sides, what gets hashed out on work requirements will be a big deal.

More to come.

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