This week, President Biden and House Speaker McCarthy announced that they had reached a deal to raise the debt ceiling. The agreement, as many have noted, is bound to please neither side. For Democrats, it more avoids drastic cuts the GOP demanded in favor of freezing non-defense discretionary spending at current levels. Still, Republicans were able to secure not only the spending caps, but further work requirements for food stamps, cuts to the IRS, and claws back unspent pandemic relief money, including $400 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Global Health Fund.
The deal does not include tax hikes, but it does include a provision aimed at fast-tracking approval of new energy projects, including a new fossil fuel pipeline. It further contains a provision to end the student debt repayment pause. Despite the cuts to relief, military spending will, of course, increase.
Had a deal not been reached, the U.S. would default on its debts–perhaps as soon as June 5, according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. STATES NEWSROOM had the story.
Such a default would cause catastrophic damage to the nation's credit, likely plummet international faith in our currency, and almost certainly send the country into a recession.
Still, the deal has rankled progressives, who say the GOP blew up the deficit with the tax cuts passed under the Trump administration and are now demanding more cuts to make up for it from assistance programs–a decision that will increase hunger in the U.S.
For more on the problems of the deal, check out this summation in THE AMERICAN PROSPECT.
COMMON DREAMS had an important read about the politics at play that captures why progressives are so frustrated with the deal.
THE NATION, meanwhile, had a good explainer of why Democrats seem so willing to appease Republican budget demands.
Progressives had long wanted to take action on the debt ceiling in order to avoid the situation the country faces now. Sen. Bernie Sanders, for example, called to address the issue during the lame duck but that did not happen.
There was good reason for the concern. Republicans have played hardball before to get their way on the budget. Back in 2011, the GOP Congress threatened a government shutdown in order to exact cuts in spending. S&P downgraded the U.S. credit rating amid the battle. Then, in 2013, they forced a government shutdown. In fact, Rep. Matt Gaetz publicly admitted the strategy was to hold the country "hostage" as THE NEW REPUBLIC reported.
With the new Congress in place, other options have been floated, including Biden invoking the 14th Amendment and essentially declaring the debt ceiling unconstitutional. Another option would be for the Treasury mint a $1 trillion coin to pay down the debts.
Rep. Bowman (D-N.Y.) expressed his frustration this week at the negotiations with "economic terrorists." For more, NEW REPUBLIC had the scoop.
But the Biden administration has resisted go-it-alone strategies, preferring bipartisan negotiation with a GOP dedicated to stripping down the federal government. Now, the deal he and McCarthy struck needs to be approved by both the House and Senate where it faces an uncertain future.
With that, please enjoy this week's selection of top stories from our OptOut participating outlets!
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State senate Republicans in Arizona held his hearing this week on COVID-19 that was rife with misinformation and conspiracy theories. Among the "experts" to testify was notorious conspiracy theorist Dr. Peter McCoullough, who has promoted a QAnon conspiracy film, "Plandemic." ARIZONA MIRROR had the story.
This week, IMPORTANT CONTEXT exposed leaked emails from the Brownstone Institute, a shadowy COVID misinformation dark money group. The emails revealed support within Brownstone for child labor and youth cigarette smoking.
Flordia Gov. Ron DeSantis has officially entered the 2024 presidential race with a glitchy Twitter space co-hosted by Elon Musk. OptOut participating outlets examined the launch and the new entrant's record.
FLORIDA PHOENIX had a good wrap of the event itself. DeSantis answered fawning questions on a range of topics from the pandemic to Bitcoin.
COUNTERPUNCH had a story about the Florida governor's use of state power against his perceived enemies.
THE NATION looked at DeSantis' rocky entry into the race and his right-wing strategy to outdo Donald Trump.
Did you know OptOut has a newsletter specifically dedicated to LGBTQIA+ stories? This week's was all about DeSantis and his record. Check it out!
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