Debt Ceiling

White House Sabotages Debt Ceiling Bill At The Last Minute

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tentatively reached a deal on spending levels for fiscal 2020 in a government funding bill that would accompany an increase in the national debt ceiling, but then something happened.

Mnuchin and Pelosi reportedly agreed to a deal that could increase spending for defense and domestic programs by equal amounts, but while Mnuchin seemingly carried the word of the White House, the White House sent a new proposal to House Democrats last night that called for $150 billion in non-defense spending cuts.

Bloomberg first reported the news late last night.

The extended talks mean Congress and the White House will be pushing up against Pelosi’s deadline to get a deal on spending levels and the debt ceiling done before the House leaves town for its August recess. The Trump administration late Thursday gave Democrats a menu of $574 billion in savings options from which to find $150 billion to offset the costs of a two-year budget cap agreement.

Lawmakers thought they would have have a bill to begin marking up today, but that now seems unlikely unless they move a bill that Trump won't sign.

CNN reports that congressional Democrats believe Trump's chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is behind this new proposal, and that checks out. I doubt Trump knows any of the specifics of federal spending much less which programs conservatives would like to cut. Trump only sees and knows what Mulvaney and Fox News put in front of him.

I don't think this is going to end with us breaching the national debt ceiling, but I wouldn't be surprised if we see the passage of a short-term bill that pushes this fight over spending a little further down the road, perhaps to December.

You don't have to step out on a long limb to see that happening as it has happened almost every single year since Republicans first gained partial control of Congress in 2011.

At the end of the day, I expect Trump will listen to Mnuchin over Mulvaney because, in his coal-black heart, Trump knows Mulvaney is a stooge.

  • muselet

    First, Donald Trump holding the debt ceiling hostage while noisily decrying holding the debt ceiling hostage is classic Trump. At least he’s consistently inconsistent.

    Second, a commenter on another site (TPM?) apparently had business contact with Trump in the ’80s, and said Trump would always come up with some (usually minor to the point of irrelevance) condition at the last minute that was the deal-breaker. The condition had usually been dealt with in negotiations and didn’t amount to much of anything, but Trump’s ego demanded one more win.

    I don’t really have a larger point here. Trump, through Mick Mulvaney, created chaos and uncertainty for funsies, and endangered the entire US economy. It’s just another day with Rs in a position of power.

    –alopecia

  • Kevin Krasnansky

    I don’t follow the stooge logic. How would Mulvaney doing Trump’s unpleasant work and being the butt of his jokes mean that Trump will pick Mnuchin over Mulvaney? Doesn’t Trump think the same thing of Mnuchin?

    Or are you saying that Trump knows Mulvaney is a GOP stooge and Mnuchin is not, and he wouldn’t pick the policy of the GOP stooge… because… [facts not in evidence].

    • Nefercat

      Maybe because Mulvaney is a GOP political creature, while Mnuchin is independently wealthy and can waltz away any time he feels like it or if trump pisses him off, and trump knows it, and as with anyone who is not beholden to him (example Putin), trump grovels.

  • waspuppet

    I guarantee Trump doesn’t know what a debt default would do. He thinks it’s like any of his bankruptcies, where you just say you’re not gonna pay and then you offer half of what you owe and say “It’s that or nothing.”

    Mnuchin is stupid, and hates America, but he knows a debt default is a bad thing. But he won’t be able to convince Trump of that. Trump thinks he’s smarter than Mnuchin because he thinks he’s smarter than anyone.

    And BTW, adding a new demand to a deal when the pen is an inch from the paper is an age-old Russian trick. Just saying.

  • mnpollio

    It is difficult to say what Trump does or does not know in his heart of hearts. You are probably correct on a short term bill that kicks the can down the road. That said, I now have such little faith in Pelosi that I could also see her caving on needless draconian spending cuts and then heralding it as a success that she collaborated with the Trumpers to move something forward, albeit at the expense of people who can least afford any more sorrow being heaped on them. It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to have a positive attitude about anyone or anything that emerges from this current political climate.