Over the past 30 years, Republicans, when in control the House of Representatives, have repeatedly used the debt ceiling to force Democratic presidents to make draconian budget cuts. This drama took place under both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. We are now witnessing a replay under Joe Biden. Under pressure from divergent political forces, Biden is being forced to make a choice between negotiating with the Republicans or figuring out a way to squash the debt ceiling threat.
In a recent statement, Jeff Hauser, founder of the Revolving Door Project, makes the case for a direct fight: “GOP leaders have sent a wildly exploitative ransom note to the public. The administration should not accept its terms. Biden, Yellen, and Garland have many executive branch pathways to avoid doing so, including by refusing to defend the debt ceiling against the recent lawsuit from government employees arguing that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to not pay its debts. The Biden Administration must not cave in to extremists and overwrite the best of the administration’s legacy merely in order to sustain the legal incoherence that is elites’ understanding of the debt ceiling.” I spoke to Jeff about the dangers of the debt ceiling as a threat to the constitutional order and how Biden can fight it.
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