Sep 29, 2021
Mitch McConnell just had Republicans in the Senate declare a filibuster against a simple piece of legislation that would raise the debt ceiling to keep the federal government running, telling Democrats if they want to avoid a massive and destructive government shutdown they're going to have to raise the debt ceiling using reconciliation.
Usually that coverage blames the attack on the bombers themselves, but American media is so loathe to point out Republican perfidy that it's a virtual guarantee the Democrats will take this one on the chin.
It appears that this is suicidal behavior. Why would they be willing to blow up the entire country along with themselves and their reputations?
On its surface, strapping an explosive vest to yourself and blowing yourself up seems pointless, an exercise in futility or even nihilism. But only a very small percentage of suicide bombers are simply suicidal.
Mitch McConnell's Republican Senate suicide bombers are, like those who blew themselves up to try to drive Americans out of Iraq or Israel out of Gaza, actually on a mission with clear purposes and objectives.
Not that you'd know it from the media. Just like the grievances of Middle Eastern suicide bombers are usually ignored or glossed over, the actual reasons why McConnell's Republicans would strap on the debt-ceiling suicide vest is almost never mentioned in mainstream American reporting.
There's plenty of coverage about how worried Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is about how severe the impact an American default--or even a pause in issuing Treasuries, which are essential to the smooth functioning of the international monetary system--would be.
"I think there would be a financial crisis, and a calamity," Yellen told reporters yesterday.
But left unsaid was why Republicans would want such a "crisis" and "calamity." What's possibly in it for them?
After all, raising the debt ceiling has, on its face, nothing to do with Democrats' plans to spend $3.5 trillion or so on infrastructure over the next decade; that would be dealt with in future debt ceilings.
Why would the Republicans filibuster the debt ceiling, forcing the Democrats to burn through their one-reconciliation-bill-a-year?
Perhaps that question answers itself, although it is possible under Senate filibuster rules to have a separate reconciliation bill just to raise the debt ceiling; the problem is that doing so makes the entire reconciliation process for other things even more complicated.
So what do they want? Why the suicide vests?
When McConnell last tried this, then against President Obama eight years ago, the GOP had a list of demands that Must Be Met to stop them from blowing up the country along with themselves: cut taxes on the morbidly rich, turn Medicare into a welfare program, and make it easier for big refineries and coal mines to pollute our air and rivers.
This time it appears their goal is to stop President Biden's Build Back Better legislation, also known as the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, a failure which will damage the Democrats politically both with their base and with independent voters for 2022 and 2024.
In other words, it's all about splitting the Democratic base against itself while making President Biden look impotent so Republicans can regain control of the House and Senate and set up Donald Trump (or equivalent) to run for president in three years.
Reconciliation is a complex and time-consuming process, and if McConnell's threat works and Democrats have to come up with an entirely new reconciliation bill to raise the debt ceiling it'll burn through precious time and political capital needed to pass Biden's signature legislation.
Even if they roll the debt ceiling and funding the government into that larger bill, it'll take a startling amount of Senate floor time that gives giant special interests more time to carpet bomb TV and other media with propaganda opposing the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better legislation while they dangle ever more money and future income opportunities in front of wavering Democrats.
And, as a bonus, the American media will fail to blame this on the GOP: they'll go along with McConnell's line that it's all the Democrats fault, even though it was the Republicans who invoked the filibuster that forces reconciliation.
Just that sentence is complex enough that our media will default to a "Democrats Fail Again" headline instead of "Republican Suicide Bombers Threaten America with Such Damage That Democrats Kill Their Own Legislation To Save the Country."
To simplify, the Republicans' apparent goals here are twofold.
First, they want to create chaos however and whenever possible when Democrats run the government, regardless of its cost to the country, so American voters in 2022 and 2024 will associate the Democratic Party with dysfunction and put Republicans in charge instead. Newt Gingrich pioneered using the debt ceiling this way in the 1990s, and the GOP successfully used it to disrupt both the Clinton and Obama administrations and seize control during the midterms. Three is a charm.
Second, Republicans want to kill the Build Back Better legislation that would slightly raise taxes on giant corporations and the morbidly rich while making life easier for working people and cleaning up the environment. (It won't even raise taxes above where they were when Trump came into office, but no increase in taxes on their wealthy patrons is acceptable to the GOP.)
This is all complicated by Senator Kyrsten Sinema's refusal to tell Democrats in either chamber what it is she wants in exchange for going along with Biden's Build Back Better $3.5 trillion dollar reconciliation bill. As long as she refuses to negotiate, she's essentially joining the suicide bombers.
When suicide bombers attack, nobody wins unless they can successfully spin the news coverage. Usually that coverage blames the attack on the bombers themselves, but American media is so loathe to point out Republican perfidy that it's a virtual guarantee the Democrats will take this one on the chin.
If that's how it plays out, get ready for Republican wins next year and President Trump (or equivalent) in 2024.
We're optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.
We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter counts.
Your contribution supports this new media model—free, independent, and dedicated to uncovering the truth. Stand with us in the fight for social justice, human rights, and equality. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!
Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.