House Speaker Kevin McCarthy meets with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office to discuss the debt ceiling on May 22, 2023.Alex Brandon/AP
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imagine i come home And find a crazy one in my house. He has a full gas can and a lit match in his hand. “If you don’t sign the deed to your house,” he yells, “I’ll burn this place down.” I refuse, and we enter into a standoff for days. Neighbors gather around my house. Police arrives. This is a major scene. Media is visible. Newspaper and TV reporters see this as a big story and slap it on the front page and lead the evening news with it: “Two local residents caught in a fierce conversation. If their talks don’t succeed, a house will be set on fire.”
This seems to be the usual media framing of the debt ceiling debate in Washington, DC. In horse racing style, most of the press has covered the episode as a political battle of two opposing forces: President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. And there has been plenty of breathless and up-to-the-minute reporting, both inside and outside, of deliberations between the White House and House Republicans, with each side being treated as an equal participant in this tale of high-stakes politics.
Earlier this week, the new York Times front page a reports The conversation included how McCarthy was “attempting a difficult balancing act”, trying to piece together a budget deal that would win over enough Republicans without alienating the most extreme members of their caucus to land McCarthy in the top House. Thanks Post for the deal—could have easily booted him from the speakership. During this, political man concentrated on Biden’s negotiating stance, noting that he “preferred to strike a deal through debt ceiling talks, laboring to work across the aisle even at the risk of alienating the moderate wing of his party.”
There was nothing wrong with these stories in and of themselves, but the coverage underestimated the story’s core element: GOP radicals refused to sign off on raising the debt ceiling so the US government could pay the bills it already owed. The consequences (of which there were many that Congress voted for) were threatening to trigger a financial crisis and blow up the American economy.
led by political man The article expressed the threat: “The nation stands on the brink of an unprecedented financial disaster, testing whether the principles of the president’s rule can continue to work.” But he did not take responsibility for this potential crisis. And it appears that Biden will be to blame for the catastrophe – if his theory was nonsense.
Most of the media has dutifully reported on the disasters that are likely to happen if the US government defaults on its debt. npr noted The S&P could drop 20 percent, interest rates could rise, and a recession could happen. cbs news informed of That financial markets could be in chaos, Social Security checks could be delayed, Medicaid and Medicare could be disrupted, and the housing market could freeze. economist told that a “rise in unemployment” and “panic throughout the global economy” were possible. new York Times published one lecturer It detailed the different types of disasters that could ensue.
But none of these stories exposed the culprit responsible for the doomcasting: House Republicans. He described the dire consequences of a lapse as a hurricane or some other natural disaster. Yet in this case, the potential destruction is clearly man-made – and prepared by a specialized group of humans.
Both partisanship is deeply ingrained in political journalism. Although Donald Trump has prompted mainstream outlets to reconsider this approach – after all, only One The party attempted to subvert an election and incited a violent subversive attack on the US Congress—this remains the default position. (Pun intended.) As a result, the to-default-or-not-to-default drama is depicted as a face-off between two political factions, and not as an act of political terrorism by a band of extremists. Where’s CNN’s countdown to the disastrous GOP default clock? (The network certainly isn’t going to do that these days, now that it’s moved toward a more tight-knit relationship with the buck.)
Earlier this week, Jonathan Weisman, a knowledgeable political reporter new York Times, Tweeted, “From my experience w/ past debt ceiling, @SpeakerMcCarthy’s problem and a large portion of the nation GOP, doesn’t believe a default will cause any problems. They think it is all liberal hypocrisy. They want their cut and they don’t care about the consequences.
This is true. But shouldn’t that be the main story of the hour? Ignorant and cavalier Republicans threaten to cause an economic recession, And does the problem arise partly because this crisis is presented mostly as a two-way budget negotiation, and not as a (nightmare) story of an extremist party playing chicken with the economy? Republicans also believe that this is their game. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has openly called the GOP strategy hostage-taking. Declaring support for the GOP measure, which is tied to raising the debt limit to cut spending that would hurt low-income Americans, he said, “I think my conservative colleagues for the most part support the limit, the savings , has supported the increase, and they don’t feel like we should be negotiating with our mortgage.
Of course, it’s not entirely the media’s fault. The Biden White House has tried and failed to establish GOP negligence as the dominant narrative. President Biden initially announced that he would not negotiate with these terrorists. But then he did, and the White House messaging operation failed to pin blame for the crisis on Republicans. Should the sh*t hit the fan, there was no telling who would be seen as more at fault by the public—Biden or the Republicans. This open question and Biden’s sense of responsibility brought him to the negotiating table.
As of Friday morning, it looked as though a deal to avoid a default might be within reach. It may well lead to budget cuts that affect government programs for middle- and low-income Americans. The GOP position was literally this: We will allow the US government to pay its bills—including those being run by a Trump administration and a Republican Congress—and avoid an economic disaster, if you hook it up to those Americans. who need help.
Yet whatever the outcome, the point remains: The Republican assault on rational governance—and the party’s propensity for chaos and destruction—had not been emphasized enough within the political media. It strengthened the hands of the hostage takers in this episode and showed them that they could engage in political terrorism at low cost. What could this mean for the future?