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Embracing their ever-expanding nihilist streak, Republicans remain committed to forcing the U.S. government to default on key payments by refusing to join with Democrats in lifting the debt ceiling this week. Walking away from what had been a long-standing tradition of bipartisan votes in order to ensure a functioning government, regardless of which party was in power, the GOP is purposely creating a looming economic crisis for the Biden administration, and for America.
And the press, led by the New York Times, is helping the GOP get away with it.
The party’s unanimous vote on Monday against raising the ceiling signaled its obstructionist strategy. The government’s funding is now set to expire 12:01 a.m. on Friday.
The United States could plunge into an immediate recession thanks to Republicans’ refusal, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, who warns that 6 million jobs could be wiped out, sending the unemployment rate surging to 9 percent.
If the limit is not raised the government won’t be able to borrow more money, forcing officials to choose between missing payments on military salaries for more than one million troops, Social Security benefits for 50 million recipients, and the interest it owes to investors. (Trump’s massive 2017 tax cut means the government has fewer funds today, and therefore needs to borrow more.)
Republicans also filibustered the debt ceiling vote, which meant Democrats needed to meet a 60-vote threshold. “It’s sort of fun to watch their chaos,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) said of the Democrats.
Starting from the assumption that of course the party out of power is in favor of creating a financial collapse, the press continues to normalize radical, internal attacks on U.S. security.
“Mainstream media outlets have been treating the potential U.S. debt default as “good news” or an “opportunity” for the very Republicans who are provoking the fight — or chalking it up to “congressional dysfunction” and a problem for the Biden administration to solve,” Media Matters recently noted.
Retreating to its preferred Both Sides starting point, the Beltway press coverage often makes sure not to single out the GOP and its radical behavior. Refusing to publish accurate headlines such as, “Republicans Vote to Derail U.S. Economy,” news outlets prefer to dance around the disturbing truth by spreading the blame around and claiming the looming debt crisis is really “legislative gamesmanship,” as the New York Times recently stressed.
That newspaper has also covered the crisis as simply “a stalemate,” suggesting that “Congress” needs to act. The paper even claimed Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has been “thrust into a political role,” when she, along with business leaders, have simply beseeched Republicans not to create an unnecessary crisis this week. The whole spectacle was, “a standoff between Democrats and Republicans,” the Times assured readers, while uncritically quoting Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), who claimed Democrats were the ones “playing a dangerous political game with our economy and it’s absolutely unnecessary.”
A Monday Times headline suggested the threat of defaulting on the debt represented a “political game,” and that the showdown was about “partisan stubbornness,” not, apparently, the Republican Party unanimously refusing to avoid a possible debt calamity.
In an opinion piece, the Times’ Michelle Cottle insisted “Getting the bill through the Senate should be a relatively simple matter. Neither party wants a shutdown in the midst of a pandemic.”
That’s categorically false. Today’s GOP is emphatically in favor of defaulting on the debt during a pandemic — members have said so over and over. The headline of Cottle’s piece, “Democrats Face a Reckoning With Themselves,” clearly implied Democrats were to blame for the debt ceiling showdown.
The Times has hardly been alone. As media critic James Fallows notes, Reuters framed the debt vote as “a partisan standoff” and a “partisan fight.” Following Monday night’s vote, Reuters’ misguided, Both Sides headline read, “U.S. Senate Fails to Advance Debt Ceiling, Government Funding Measure.”
CBS News days ago framed the story as “Republicans and Democrats facing off” over “partisan claims” about the debt. In a long piece about the possible default, the Washington Post waited until the 15th paragraph to point out it’s “extraordinary” what the GOP is doing by blocking the vote. That key fact should have been in the first paragraph.
Note that on three occasions when Trump was president and Republicans controlled spending for the entire federal government, Democrats joined with the GOP and voted to lift the debt ceiling. Democrats could have sabotaged the economy in order to score partisan points, but they didn’t because they’re more interested in governing than they are trolling.
The press ought to make that distinction.
(Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
👍🏻 GOOD STUFF:
I mentioned James Fallows above. He recently launched a media newsletter of his own, Breaking the News. It’s excellent and insightful. You can read it here.
From his column on debt ceiling coverage:
A “showdown” over this issue is like a showdown over one party saying that if it doesn’t get its way, it will blow up the Grand Coulee Dam.
And the test for the press is whether it conveys that blunt fact—or whether, by contrast, it portrays this threat as one more “both sides have a point!” disagreement.
I’ll update this post day-by-day, with reportage that is conveying, or obscuring, these realities.
🎤 FUN STUFF: BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
Diane Warren and Maren Morris, “I Save Me”
Blockbuster songwriter Warren, who has penned hits for a kaleidoscope of stars including Cher, Toni Braxton, and Aerosmith, decided to curate an entire album using an all-star lineup of singers interpreting her latest songs.
A clear highlight is this moving ode to self-reliance from Nashville’s Morris, who’s voice always bridges the gap between vulnerability and tough as nails.
I don't need no hero, don't waste 'em on me
I'll rescue my own self, I'll set myself free
'Cause in my story, I save me
In my story, I save me
🎙 Click here to listen to the music that’s been featured on PRESS RUN, via a Spotify playlist.
Click hereto listen via Apple Music.