As recently as yesterday, against a backdrop of a looming default deadline, there was cautious optimism about the budget talks. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who’s had little positive to say of late, told reporters, “I see the path that we can come to an agreement.”
That optimism was in short supply this morning as Republicans walked away from the negotiating table, suggesting that White House officials are not being “reasonable.” (Here’s a radical thought: Those executing an extortion scheme and threatening to impose a deliberate economic catastrophe on Americans should probably avoid using the word “reasonable.”)
In order to give lawmakers enough time to approve legislation before a Republican-imposed catastrophe, McCarthy has said he’d like to see a deal completed by this weekend. As things currently stand, his GOP representatives in the talks aren’t even at the negotiating table, and it’s an open question as to when they’ll return.
By all appearances, it’s likely that Donald Trump will be pleased with the developments.
At last week’s town hall event on CNN, the former president, who has said very little about his party’s debt ceiling crisis in recent months, was quite candid about his position. “I say to the Republicans out there — congressmen, senators — if [Democrats] don’t give you massive cuts, you’re going to have to do a default,” Trump said, failing to note which investments he wants to eliminate.
Over the weekend, by way of his social media platform, the frontrunner for the GOP’s 2024 nomination added that his party should proceed with default “Unless the Republicans get EVERYTHING they are asking for in terms of Cost Cutting.”
This morning, Trump was similarly unsubtle, publishing this missive:
“REPUBLICANS SHOULD NOT MAKE A DEAL ON THE DEBT CEILING UNLESS THEY GET EVERYTHING THEY WANT (Including the ‘kitchen sink’). THAT’S THE WAY THE DEMOCRATS HAVE ALWAYS DEALT WITH US. DO NOT FOLD!!!”
The idea that Democrats “dealt with” Republicans this way isn’t just wrong, it’s been contradicted by Trump himself: He actually praised Democrats for not launching a debt ceiling crisis during his presidency.
But even putting that aside, what Trump is describing is a scenario in which the White House and the Senate majority agree to literally all of the GOP’s right-wing demands, or Republicans should impose a disaster on the world.
It’s enough to make one wonder whether the former president wants to see an economic catastrophe.
As serious as this crisis is, there is an amusing angle to keep in mind: The House speaker was asked this week about the former president and his apparent eagerness to push a default scheme.
“I think President Trump is a great negotiator,” McCarthy responded. “I think President Trump, when he does that, he’s trying to help the negotiations.”
A variety of words come to mind to describe the former president’s recent rhetoric on default. “Helpful” isn’t one of them.