President Donald Trump, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have all expressed a desire and an intention to raise the debt ceiling in an orderly fashion next month to avoid what could be a disastrous default that promises to wreak havoc on the international financial markets.
Still, there is a big question looming as to whether or not Republicans – who control both houses of Congress and the White House – will actually go forward with a clean bill.
Conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus are itching to use the passing of the debt ceiling bill to extract spending limits that adhere to small government principles. This has been a longstanding and questionably-effective trick in the pocket of the Republican Party for some time, and it’s no surprise to see these conservatives hoping to use it again in 2017.
But now’s not the time.
Republicans have a bigger obligation right now, and that is to simultaneously prove they can govern while acting as good stewards of the nation’s economy. Yes, the national debt and our swelling spending is a problem that needs to be addressed. But Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus need to understand the position their party is in right now. Fractured, divided, and unable to come together on a healthcare bill, this is a party that is getting WHIPPED by the Democrats despite being in the majority. And the Democrats know it. And they will use it.
If we default on the debt ceiling, the fault WILL go to Republicans. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves. The only way that doesn’t happen is if Democrats decide to make this their big moment and attach a bunch of nonsense to the bill. If they go that route, all bets are off. Republicans should be committed to passing a clean bill, but that certainly doesn’t mean one with a host of Democrat Party barnacles. If the Democrats want to sink the U.S. credit rating, that’s another story. But this doesn’t need to be the Republican Party’s problem. Not right now. Not after the healthcare debacle.
“With the White House, House and Senate under one party control, the American people expect and deserve a plan from Republicans to avert a catastrophic default and ensure the full faith and credit of the United States,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. “With so much at risk for hard-working families, Republicans need to stop the chaos and sort themselves out in a hurry.”
For once, Pelosi is making sense. But we’ll see if she’s as committed to passing a clean bill as she sounds, or if she’s merely gearing up to play this crisis for political gain. If it’s the former, great. If it’s the latter, the GOP needs to stand firm.