Let me start by saying that I think Democrats are doing just the right thing on their flat policy of non-negotiation on the debt-ceiling extension or increase. As several articles have reminded us today, Obama and Biden (and really all Democrats with their eyes open) learned this lesson in 2011–2013. But I think there’s a slight clarification or additional elaboration that could help Democrats anticipate one line of attack from congressional Republicans.
No one — not the White House or any Democrats on Capitol Hill — is saying they won’t negotiate the federal budget or how much the country should be spending on this or that priority or how much debt the country should take on. Kevin McCarthy is right when he says, albeit disingenuously, you can’t say you won’t negotiate. That’s what democratic governance is. That’s true. In the last Congress, Democrats’ had a tenuous but complete control of Congress as well as the White House. Now Republicans hold the House by an equally tenuous but real margin. By definition, that means fiscal policy will move in the Republican direction during the next two years. That’s the democratic process. The extent of the shift is what negotiation is about. Each side has its own set of tools at its disposal.