[CLICK ON TITLE TO SEE FORMATTED VERSION OF THIS EDITORIAL] We would like to explore a new way of engaging with Green Party of Tennessee members and email subscribers by presenting an editorial with each email newsletter. If you like or dislike this feature of the newsletter, please let us know. If you would like to join in a Teams call audio/video discussion of this issue, we can arrange that! Future topics we are considering are:
(1) After the BLM Movement -- "What the GPTN could learn from BLM's lack of policy focus" or softer "What the GPTN could learn from our brothers and sisters in the BLM movement" Two 6-minute podcasts by Briahna Joy Gray interviewing a guest. The links will be posted in the article.
(2) "Is it just a coincidence that most of California's single-payer bills have been introduced by lawmakers in the LGBTQ community? How can we further galvanize the community around this life-saving issue? " 12-minute podcast by Code Wack (HEAL California)
(3) "How will you pay for that?" Bogus arguments to prevent policies designed to lift up the most economically disadvantaged in our society.
The first editorial deals with the recent debt ceiling bill enacted by Congress and signed by President Biden.
THE DEBT CEILING CANARD
Biden set a horrible precedent that will come back to bite the president in 2025 and potentially every year after that.
By Michael Guth
Writing in The Guardian, Senator Bernie Sanders wrote of the debt ceiling bill, “Let’s be clear. The original debt ceiling legislation that Republicans passed in the House would have, over a 10-year period, decimated the already inadequate social safety net of our country and made savage cuts to programs that working families, the children, the sick, the elderly and the poor desperately needed.”
“The best thing to be said about the current deal on the debt ceiling is that it could have been much worse. Instead of making massive cuts to healthcare, housing, education, childcare, nutrition assistance and other vital programs over the next decade, this bill proposes to make modest cuts to these programs over a 2-year period. . . .”
“At a time when this country is rapidly moving toward Oligarchy, with more wealth and income inequality than we’ve ever experienced, I could not in good conscience vote for a bill that cuts programs for the most vulnerable while refusing to ask billionaires to pay a penny more in taxes. Wall Street and corporate interests may be enthusiastic about this bill, but I believe it moves us in exactly the wrong direction.” The full article is available at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/jun/02/bernie-sanders-debt-ceiling-bill
Biden made unnecessary concessions, when he had legal and constitutional tools available that would have eradicated this debt ceiling canard once and for all. Instead, Biden and his dubious advisers pursued a politically motivated strategy: Biden would claim that is the champion of bipartisan agreements. But this was not a negotiated settlement that advanced the professed policy objectives of the Democrats. Rather one-side (Biden) gave concessions and sacrificed programs that would appeal to the Green Party (nationally and Tennessee) as well the progressive wing of the Democratic party. The other side (Republicans) gave up nothing and achieved a stack of concessions from “I’ve served in the Senate over forty years” Biden. Masterful?
If there had been no agreement, then the truth of this debt ceiling hoax would have been revealed: the federal government would have continued business as usual. Any skirmish over a violation of the debt ceiling statute would have been quickly resolved by the Federal Reserve, acting as agent for the Department of the Treasury, by continuing to pay on Social Security and other government expenditures, or would have been resolved in the courts with one or more decisions that disgruntled legislators may never threaten the full faith and credit of the United States.
Can you imagine a former president calling on members of the Freedom Caucus in Congress to pursue a default of the United States’ financial obligations? Do such blatant attempts to undermine the institutional integrity of the United States government amount to a form of treason? (“Under these ratified amendments, the argument for the Debt Limit Statute becomes a form of treason. Section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment ...” New Republic, Jan. 6, 2023) (emphasis added) (“We are seeing continuous circuses in Washington of people not thinking about the long-term interests of the United States, but about scoring points in a political football game. . . . ‘If I don't get my way, I am going to destroy everything.’ It is treasonous, and I don't use that word lightly." Georgetown Associate Professor of finance quoted in Fool.com, May 31, 2023)
Biden’s desire to diffuse a mainstream media-fomented crisis came with a “bipartisan compromise” at the expense of the environment, anti-poverty programs, student debt relief, and tax enforcement. Back when Obama was negotiating the debt ceiling with Speaker John Boehner, cuts in spending would have been across-the-board in military and non-military funding alike. Now Biden conceded the decoupling of military from non-military spending, with the result that military spending will skyrocket while cuts would be born entirely by non-military programs including social security, Medicare, Medicaid, environmental protection, transportation, and every other non-military expenditure.
In Tennessee, how many of us remember when Governor Phil Bredesen implemented draconian cuts to the TennCare program? Imagine that austerity policy playing out on the federal stage year-after-year due to the (bogus) debt ceiling statute.
Biden’s concessions on domestic programs are much worse than we realize due to the mainstream media blatant attempt to divert attention with headlines such as “Default Crisis Averted” or as the New York Times put it, “Catastrophe Avoided.” Those of us in the Green Party will soon realize this agreement is a tragedy.
One final note, the 1917 federal statute on the debt ceiling was passed to allow the federal government to borrow as much as it needed to fund military expenditures for World War I. The 1917 debt ceiling limit was so high that its purpose was obvious: the U.S. government (then led by Woodrow Wilson) had no financial constraint on necessary borrowing to finance the war. The modern-day Republicans have distorted that 1917 debt ceiling statute and turned it on its head by using “debt ceiling” as a crippling stranglehold to stop the executive branch from discharging its duty to spend the funds Congress has already appropriated and authorized (instructed) the executive branch to spend.
Let us know what you think of this editorial and want to join in a discussion of this issue.
For more analysis of this topic, please watch David Sirota’s interview on Democracy Now https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plVKjAermPc or his article at The Lever entitled “This is What Biden Considers a ‘Big Win’” https://www.levernews.com/this-is-what-biden-says-is-a-big-win/