Shuddering Foundations

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Here’s one thing to keep an eye on as we moved toward ~ June 1st. Over the last few days there’s been a growing jitteriness on Wall Street and in the D.C. stakeholding communities. Like, shit, this really might happen. I don’t see any panic yet. But the complacent assumption that obviously it’s going to get worked out is starting the fray or at least come under some strain.

What appears to have gone on over the last four or five days is the White House just keeps saying no to new or expanded GOP demands. Of course, they’ve already agreed to or tentatively signaled their willingness to agree to quite a lot. So there’s no hard line or Michael Corleone-style “my offer is nothing.” But they do seem to have come to a line. At least for now.

Political cultures are based on interlocking sets of guiding assumptions. For some decades, this has been assumed: Republicans will make transgressive and over-the-top demands. Democrats will clean up those messes. This may sound like a self-serving view of things. But in their own language this is what Republicans and the D.C. stakeholders themselves say. Any clear-eyed and honest observer of national U.S. politics understands this.

It’s not that a lot of people don’t recognize the transgressive and over-the-top nature of all this for what it is. But it’s what Republicans do. Few of us spend that much time shaking our fists at the rain. Republicans do it; Democrats clean it up.

But now Biden seems to be signaling he might not clean it up.

I’m not saying he’s going to refuse. They’ve already given in a lot and if I had to bet I’d bet on them giving up more. (It’s simply inevitable if you’re not at least credibly threatening to going around the whole debt ceiling nonsense by one of the various well-aired plans.) But you can see how everyone’s wires start to frazzle if each side doesn’t play out its own prescribed role.

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