Josh Marshall

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Josh Marshall is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TPM.

The Diehards Fold

Yesterday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (F-FL) said that a bright line Kevin McCarthy couldn’t go past without triggering a “motion to vacate” would be having a majority of the GOP caucus vote against his debt ceiling/budget deal with Joe Biden. This gives away the game. They might as well say that they’ll end McCarthy’s speakership the second he announces he’s identifying as non-binary. The couple dozen Freedom Caucus diehards are now setting the bar comically high because it’s suddenly clear the cudgel they’re allegedly holding over McCarthy has been vastly overstated.

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The Fascist That Didn’t Bark

If all goes according to schedule, the Biden-McCarthy deal will go to a vote tomorrow evening. Yes, we see this or that member complaining, perhaps a dozen or two either announcing or signaling their opposition. So far though it’s all quite low energy — far more performative and box-checking than any true effort to scuttle this deal or punish its author. There is of course one person who on his own could potentially change the dynamic: Donald Trump.

It’s very noteworthy that so far, as far as I can tell, he’s said basically nothing. I don’t think that’s because it escaped his notice. He could definitely still jump in. But there’s very little time left and he’s already had upwards of a week.

Here are a few points to keep in mind.

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Freak Cavalcade, But Not More
McCarthy Might Not Only Survive But Be Newly Empowered against the Freedom Caucus's Core Freak Brigade

I’ll have to see a bit more. But I believe we’re seeing signs that Kevin McCarthy has essentially outmaneuvered the core freak brigade in the Freedom Caucus — about 20 or so members. They’re all saying it’s a terrible deal. But they’re not saying more than that. As we noted over the weekend McCarthy has two critical members of that group on his team — Greene and Jordan.

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Taking Stock
Some good questions if not necessarily clear answers as the budget deal goes to a vote.

We now know the basics of the deal between Biden and McCarthy and a vote is set.

Let’s take stock of where we are.

First, just to catch us up on earlier posts, the deal is broadly what was leaked at the end of last week. It’s a much better deal for White House than I think almost anyone expected. It’s roughly what you would have expected if the two sides had engaged in a normal budget negotiation this fall.

Here are a few points to consider.

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Fedus Ex Machina?
Was the Federal Reserve holding the Debt Ceiling cards all along?
Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell testifies before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on 'The Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress', at Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, July 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

From TPM Reader RC

You were wondering how Biden was able to get such a good deal; in the end all this drama just amounted to getting the budget-negotiation process started early, with the GOP’s main takeaway being something (spending freeze) that their control of the House already guaranteed them via the tool of passing continuing resolutions.

Joe did a far better job than anyone imagined he could, for about the 79th time in a row.  But that said, the key thing to recognize is that Biden’s hand was much stronger than anyone I read seemed to understand.  What the media got right is, if a default destroyed the economy, that would hurt Joe/Dems in the general; even if people in some sense knew it was the GOP’s fault, they’d still mostly follow the heuristic “if things are going well, I’ll vote for the incumbent; if not, throw the bums out!”

But consider this: what if a default _isn’t_ devastating for the economy?  And what if Joe and Kevin both know it?  Well in that case, default is fine for Biden, because he can then blame whatever economic difficulties occur between now and Election Day on the GOP-created default!  Of course not all such blame will stick, but the point is, if the default _doesn’t_ meaningfully damage the economy, then it’s a net positive for Joe’s re-election chances, because it means he’ll get at-least-a-little-bit reduced blame for whatever bad things (recession, slow wage growth, inflation, etc.) were going to happen anyway.

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More Details

Now we can say the following. There is a deal. Both sides are presenting it to their members. McCarthy announced plans to hold a vote on Wednesday. Details of the deal are dribbling out. Broadly they seem to conform to reporting over the last 72 hours. The big sticking point at the end was work requirements. There are changes to SNAP and TANF. But they seem pretty limited, mainly focus on able-bodied recipients without children between the ages of 50 and 54.

These concessions are not nothing. But they’re basically what you would have expected if the Republicans had never played with the debt ceiling in the first place but had done a regular budget negotiation. On the merits this is a very good result because it means we won’t have the financial chaos of a debt default and we appear to have far more modest concessions than almost anyone was anticipating. In other words, the hostage taking was a fail. If you walk into Denny’s, pull out a gun and “say gimme the money,” but then you end up just getting served breakfast that means you failed. And that’s kind of what happened here.


Bloomberg News is reporting that Biden and McCarthy have a deal.

Paxton Impeached

The Texas State House impeached Attorney General Ken Paxton by an overwhelming vote of 121-23. Under Texas state law Paxton is immediately suspended from office pending his Senate trial.

Having watched some of today’s debate I was surprised that the vote was so lopsided. At the end of the day he’s a notorious crook. I don’t know enough about the internal politics of the Texas House GOP caucus to know how much factionalism played a role. But as I said, he’s a notorious crook and it’s shocking he managed to remain as long as he did as the state’s highest law enforcement officer. Maybe that’s what it came down to.

Paxton Impeachment

If you want to fully nerd out, here’s the link to the live feed of the Ken Paxton impeachment. This is the guy who is the head of the investigating committee, Andrew Murr.

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How Did Biden Get this (Maybe) Deal?

As I’ve noted in running posts over the last day or so, there’s still no deal. So we need to be tentative in any analysis of how this “deal” happened since it hasn’t happened. But assuming it does come together, how did we get here? How did Biden get this deal?

Big picture: I don’t have a terribly good answer. But my best guess is that some combination of the following two things got us here.

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