As my colleague Josh Marshall spelled out earlier, there is one very loud voice that is notably absent from this conversation.
Donald Trump has remained largely silent on the debt ceiling ever since the Biden White House and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) settled a deal over the weekend to ransom the debt ceiling hostage in exchange for some GOP legislative priorities, most notably work requirements for SNAP recipients.
No faction in Congress seems thrilled with the deal, but most also seem ready to move past this whole mess. The House Rules Committee met on the legislation this afternoon and McCarthy aims to bring the bill to the floor for a full vote Wednesday. Both Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have signaled their support for the measure.
The loudest exception to the lets-get-this-over-with sentiment comes from the far-right wing of McCarthy’s caucus, which has periodically asserted a desire to muck up the package’s passage over the weekend and throughout the day Tuesday. Exactly how they might block the bill remained and remains unclear, and it appears a critical mass of right-wingers have thrown in the towel at this point. Some members are instead threatening to force a referendum on McCarthy’s speakership, just for good measure.
While anti-Trump resistance-y types on Twitter like the Lincoln Project argue that the Freedom Caucus’ threats to block the deal are aimed at forcing an economic collapse so they can reelect Trump in 2024, this whole thing may not be so long-sighted. These guys have done this to McCarthy before — flexing their power over GOP leadership to secure consolation prizes from the speaker and to broadcast their own effectiveness, all while attesting to their supposedly sacred belief in austerity and conservative values.
This is the backdrop against which some 2024 presidential candidates have started to weigh in — notably after much of the drama is resolved and the debt ceiling looks nearly certain to be lifted. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Trump administration UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and likely 2024 candidate and ex-Trump VP Mike Pence all have come out against the deal, mostly using the moment as an opportunity to feign concerns about the deficit while tepidly attacking one another and Donald Trump.
“Our country was careening toward bankruptcy” before the deal was struck, Mr. DeSantis said on “Fox and Friends” on Monday, “and after this deal, our country will still be careening toward bankruptcy.”
“The best way to fix Washington’s spending addiction is to elect people who have not been part of the problem. Adding at least $4 trillion to America’s $31 trillion national debt over two years without substantially cutting spending is no way to run our country’s fiscal affairs. Business as usual won’t get the job done,” Haley asserted, in a statement provided by her campaign.
Pence, with the least energetic statement of them all:
“Congress’ debt limit deal doesn’t just kick the can down the road, it uses Washington smoke and mirror games to make small reforms while weakening our military at a time of increasing threats from foreign adversaries,” Pence said in a statement through his political advocacy group.
“It’s time to be honest with the American people and get everybody to the table to restore fiscal integrity to our nation,” Pence continued. “By ignoring the drivers of our national debt and avoiding honest conversations with the American people, President Biden and the Washington establishment continue to pile the burden of debt onto the backs of our grandchildren, and the American people deserve better.”
While no one can claim to be a better Trump than Trump, the candidates above may reason that their best shot is to out right-wing the former president by embracing the right-most members’ of Congress and their critiques.
But Trump remains silent. He has reportedly been in talks with McCarthy about the negotiations with Biden and, as in the speakership race, reportedly remains firmly behind McCarthy.
The Best Of TPM Today
Here’s what you should read this evening:
Catch up on our live coverage: McCarthy Aims For Wednesday Vote On Debt Ceiling Budget Deal
Yesterday’s Most Read Story
What We Are Reading
The Rise of Latino White Supremacy — The New Yorker