Sep 27, 2021 1 min, 50 secs

If it doesn’t raise the debt limit, the government won’t be able to pay its bills come October.

Shutdown showdowns in the mid-1990s, and again in the early 2010s, predictably cut against Republicans and forced them to ultimately cave to pressure (whether we’re talking about a government shutdown showdown or a debt limit standoff, the blame dynamics are similar—with the only difference being no one has ever been insane enough to actually default on the debt). But things are looking different this time around, for a variety of reasons.?

One reason, out of many, is that raising the debt limit can be easily portrayed as running up the nation’s credit card bill—so vulnerable swing-district Democrats would rather have some bipartisan cover.

Democrats want to attach a suspension on the debt ceiling until December of 2022 to a continuing resolution.

But this cannot be done via reconciliation because reconciliation rules require items to be strictly budget-related, not policy changes (raising the debt limit by a specific number is budgetary, while suspending the debt limit is a policy change). Democrats would prefer to avoid fixing the debt limit to a specific number, partly because doing so would allow Republicans to run ads saying, “Congressman so-and-so voted to raise the debt limit to a GAZILLION dollars.”.

Buried in the above paragraph is evidence that a) Democrats have political reasons for wanting to rope Republicans into helping, and b) Republicans have a substantive reason for not wanting to be a party to this.

We always hear that raising the debt ceiling is about paying for past spending (in this case, partly accrued during the Trump era), but nobody would raise the limit just to barely cover past costs.

And because Democrats have attached a suspension on the debt ceiling until December of 2022, Republicans rightly feel they would be complicit in Biden’s future spending, which will total in the trillions (with the caveat that Democrats are currently saying the $3.5 trillion bill would be paid for via tax increases, etc., and thus would not add to the debt).

Another thing helping Republicans is that McConnell has been warning Democrats they would have to do this alone for months.

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