Last Wednesday, our 45th president assembled the congressional leaders from both parties at the White House, as presidents so often do. A crisis needed to be averted.
The debt ceiling needed to be either raised or suspended, again. This time, there was some serious drama in the real world. Two hurricanes were headed to our shores and the emergency funds were empty.
As usual, the two political parties were at odds.
The U.S. Treasury needed new authority to borrow funds to pay for the government’s obligations that had already been incurred as the result of laws and budgets approved by the President and Congress.
As the current Congress rejected President Trump’s budgets by large bipartisan margins, the government is operating under a continuing resolution — an agreement to keep spending levels the same from one fiscal year to another. In budget terms, Barack Obama is still in charge.
Some say President Trump took the first offer from Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Actually, first he watched as Senator Schumer rejected two offers from the Republicans — to suspend the debt limit for 18 months, and after that, for six months. Then, the Senator from Brooklyn bid “Three Months!” Gavel!
“Presidenting” can be easy.
Naturally, that three month deal — not to default for three months — was blamed on Speaker Paul Ryan by the dissident Republican Members of the House. Somehow, it was his fault that that group did not get the opportunity to offer a series of losing amendments to offset the cost of paying the nation’s past bills with cuts to future programs. Right wing nutting can be so frustrating!
The periodic crisis over raising, or suspending, the debt ceiling is a symbol of the collapse of regular order in American politics.
In this game, the two sides line up against a line drawn by the Secretary of the Treasury on a giant calendar. The party in power has to accomplish one of two possible moves: raise or suspend. The party out of power blocks. Finally, after months of pushing and shoving over grunts about children and grandchildren, each of the two parties split into factions, “We want to go home” and “We’re still crazy.”
It’s like football with fewer concussions.
President Trump got the game over within an hour. See you again in December.
Same field, same rules.