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.

Treasury secretary pinpoints June 5 as earliest date for U.S. debt default - Kansas Reflector
Republicans in Congress and the Biden administration have until at least June 5 to broker and enact a debt limit bill.
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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.

As Deals Go, This Is One of Them
An X-Date special: running down the details of the debt ceiling agreement.
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COMMON DREAMS had an important read about the politics at play that captures why progressives are so frustrated with the deal.

Corporate Media Continues to Blow It on Coverage of Debt Ceiling Hostage Situation
It’s simple: “Republicans drove up the national debt by giving huge tax breaks to the rich and major corporations—now they’re trying to make the rest of us pay for it.”
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THE NATION, meanwhile, had a good explainer of why Democrats seem so willing to appease Republican budget demands.

The Reagan-Era Roots of Democratic Budget Appeasement
How the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities has conducted budget negotiations in a defensive crouch
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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.

Matt Gaetz Admits Republicans Are Holding America “Hostage” Over Debt Ceiling
The Florida representative literally said the quiet part out loud.
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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.

Jamaal Bowman: Why Are We Negotiating With Economic Terrorists (Republicans)?
The New York representative does not see any need to negotiate with Republicans on the debt ceiling.
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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.

Senate COVID hearing light on facts, heavy on misinformation
A two-day special hearing at the Arizona Senate aimed at examining the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was rife with conspiracy theories, misinformation and fear-mongering around vaccines and public health — all endorsed by the Republican state legislators who sat and listened intently and…
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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.

Leaked Brownstone Institute Emails Reveal Support for Child Labor, Underage Smoking
“Maybe I have a tin ear but I can’t really see the issue here.”
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2024 Race

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.

After initial Twitter breakdown, DeSantis discusses his presidential bid with Elon Musk - Florida Phoenix
Gov. Ron DeSantis was supposed to announce his candidacy for president on so-called “Twitter Spaces” at 6 p.m., with Elon Musk. That didn’t happen, at least right away, as thousands of people attempted to tune into the audio-only conversation about DeSantis’ presidential run. And moderator David Sa…
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COUNTERPUNCH had a story about the Florida governor's use of state power against his perceived enemies.  

DeSantis’s Weaponization of Government Should Give Us Pause
Since the end of the 2022 mid-term elections, conservatives across America have considered Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis a potential frontrunner for the
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THE NATION looked at DeSantis' rocky entry into the race and his right-wing strategy to outdo Donald Trump.

Ron DeSantis’s Copycat Strategy Is Failing
The Florida governor’s bungled campaign launch makes clear there is only room for one Trump.
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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!

Don’t Say DeSantis
Yet another dreaded 2024 announcement and some facts about the state of the LGBTQ+ union.
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