House Republicans have been planning since before they won the majority to take the economy hostage, but they are facing strong opposition from the White House.
Klain said the White House’s plan was straightforward, according to the lawmaker: Refuse to entertain any concessions, and launch a barrage of attacks highlighting the GOP position that would force Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to fold.
“This debate is simple: We want to do the responsible thing, and they want to take the entire American economy hostage to cut Social Security and Medicare,” said the member of Congress, speaking on the condition of anonymity to reflect private conversations. Klain told the lawmaker that the fight could result in substantial political benefits for the Democratic Party. “The point he was making was clear: You can’t negotiate with people who take hostages.”
Post reporter Jeff Stein added on Twitter:
So that leads us back to: Relentlessly hammer the GOP in public for threatening to blow up the US economy to cut popular programs, a message Dem pollsters think they’ll win on.
(Some conservatives I’ve spoken to think the GOP is already feeling the heat here) pic.twitter.com/V5HqHMtPbk
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) January 21, 2023
Biden learned as vice president from the 2011 debt ceiling crisis that was caused by House Republicans that there can be no negotiations on the debt ceiling. In other words, the president can’t set the precedent that they will negotiate with political terrorists, or the result will be an endless series of Republican-created threats to the economy.
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It is easy for House Republicans to stand together months before the debt ceiling gets real, but when it comes to people not getting their Social Security checks, government offices being closed, or employees not being paid, Republicans are likely to quickly fracture.
A House speaker is only as strong as the unity of their caucus, and Kevin McCarthy’s caucus is fractured and will probably fall apart as soon the pressure gets intense. Republicans are already feeling the heat, as they don’t seem to have any strategy beyond demanding negotiations and hoping that Biden says yes.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association