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US Capitol. Photo credit: Daniel Mennerich / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Senate passed legislation Thursday night that ensures the United States can continue to pay its massive stack of bills until the start of 2025.

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The Senate passed legislation Thursday night that ensures the United States can continue to pay its massive stack of bills until the start of 2025.

Although they had not had a seat at the negotiating table, all but four Democratic senators voted in favor of the deal that President Joe Biden and House Republicans had hammered out over the past few weeks. Progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also opposed it on the grounds that the limited spending cuts it contains hurt regular Americans while protecting rich ones.

Conversely, almost two-thirds of Republican senators voted against the legislation. That alone should tell you who “won” this debt ceiling fight.

Of course, ultimately, nobody did — except perhaps Biden if he is the Democrats’ 2024 presidential nominee and doesn’t have to deal with this ahead of the election. That’s not true, actually. The “Epic Debt Ceiling Duel of 2023” allowed political reporters in Washington, DC, to chase after lawmakers for a few weeks, get some juicy quotes and write stories that people then clicked on. In that sense, the ultimate winners here were the owners of the news outlets that employ these journalists.

In the end, House Republicans lost a confrontation they needlessly started. It’s as though a schoolyard bully picked a fight and ended up without his own lunch money. That would be fine, but in this case, it’ll be ordinary people who end up losing theirs. Quite literally.

Among other cuts mostly targeting low-income Americans, the deal the Senate passed last night will put hundreds of thousands of 50-54-year-olds at risk of losing their food assistance by making changes to who qualifies for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

This provision will “take food assistance away from large numbers of people, including many who have serious barriers to employment as well as others who are working or should be exempt but are caught up in red tape,” according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

These people are Democrats, Republicans, independents, and indifferent. Maybe some of them cheered on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as he promised to restore “fiscal sanity” in the US, not understanding that they would be the one bearing the costs.

And, to be honest, that makes it pretty difficult for this journalist to write yet another article about this “crisis,” which was manufactured out of thin air purely because Republicans felt that it would benefit them.

Because politics is no longer about solving problems, it’s all about power and putting points on an imaginary scoreboard. And that’s why, egged on by pundits on cable TV and social media platforms, politicians are picking partisan fights whenever they can.

That’s not only true in the case of raising the debt ceiling but also when it comes to dealing with real-life, once-in-a-century crises like the coronavirus pandemic, or more mundane matters like canceling businesses that are too “woke” (or not woke enough).

There is just one problem: All of these no-holds-barred battles are fought on the backs of ordinary people, who then become more disillusioned with what is happening to them and end up supporting even more extreme candidates.

And the cycle continues.

Wash, rinse, repeat.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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