Debt Deal Shocker: It Hurts the Poor, Helps Rich Tax Cheats - The Monday AM Quickie 5/29/23

I have caught maybe 40 minutes in total of the Celtics’ season this year. But I did see the split second on Saturday where Derrick White tipped in a shot before the final buzzer, sending the Celtics to game 7 tonight after being down 3-0 at the start of the series. If they win, I’m going to pretend I was on the bandwagon the whole time. - Robert

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Debt Ceiling Deal: Sandbags the Poor, Let’s the Rich Steal More

Biden and Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy have struck a not-so-grand bargain to raise the debt ceiling for two years in exchange for effective cuts in discretionary spending and stricter work requirements for certain welfare benefits. The deal is not as bad as it could have been (evidenced by the House Freedom Caucus’ conniption fit over it), but it would still make hundreds of thousands food insecure and diminish the federal government’s ability to function. Here is a rundown of what's in the bill, per David Dayen at the American Prospect, the Washington Post, and the current text of the bill:

  • Fiscal Year 2024 will maintain FY 2023 levels for non-defense discretionary spending. The spending cap raises by 1 percent for FY 2025. This amounts to an approximately 5 percent cut over two years when accounting for inflation.
  • Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare will be shielded from spending cuts.
  • $20 billion will be clawed back from the IRS of the $80 billion allotted by the Inflation Reduction Act to step-up enforcement on wealthy tax cheats and improve service.
  • Military spending for FY 2024 will match almost $886 billion Biden had originally requested for defense. Veterans benefits will also match Biden’s original budget.
  • There will be stricter work requirements for many TANF and SNAP beneficiaries, to sunset in 2030. TANF requirements would be optionally imposed by states, but the modified SNAP rules would raise an age restriction for benefits to 54 from 49 for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD). An estimated 1 million people will be impacted by this measure. All work requirements for homeless and veterans will be lifted.
  • Changes Biden made to energy projects permitting through executive action will be codified, short of what some supply-side liberals were hoping for. McCarthy has pledged to do a more comprehensive permitting deal with Dems later, according to Joshua Siegel of Politico.
  • The deal would expedite the Mountain Valley Pipeline by mandating that permits be issued for the project 3 weeks after the bill is signed. The natural gas pipeline has been a hobby horse for Joe Manchin and is strongly opposed by environmental groups.
  • Repayments on student debt will begin 60 days after SCOTUS rules on Biden’s loan forgiveness program. This just puts the Department of Education’s previous promise into writing, but the administration maintains emergency powers to reimpose a freeze on loan repayments.
  • The PayGo administrative rule would be written into statute. This rule, now simply a Bush-era executive order, says that for each regulation increasing mandatory spending, a cut needs to be made somewhere else to balance out the increase. This could have gutted hopes for progressive hopes of strong regulation, but, as Dayen pointed out on Twitter, the final gatekeeper for regulation is still the Office of Management and Budget, rules are not subject to judicial review, and the statute would sunset at the end of Biden's first term.

It remains to be seen what the Progressive Caucus’ response to the deal will be. Pramila Jayapal, the caucus chair, said Sunday morning on CNN that she’s “not happy” with some of the things in the deal, but was waiting to see the text of the legislation. Progressives have been pushing Biden to rely on the 14th amendment, or another work-around, rather than deal with Republicans, but the White House consistently hedged threats to unilaterally bypass the debt ceiling.

Biden has made it clear he'd rather negotiate with the Republican hostage takers than disarm them; the administration is even fighting a lawsuit from the National Association of Government Employees that, if successful, would get rid of the world-outlier debt ceiling for good. With split government likely for the forseeable future, Republicans will inevitably use the debt ceiling again to extract more concessions, in 2025 at the earliest. Why stop brinksmanship if it's working for them?

The loudest opposition within government to the proposed deal, so far, has come from the far right conservatives, who made Kevin McCarthy sit through 15 votes before they finally elected him Speaker. Let’s see if they’re mad enough to boot him from the Speaker's chair.

Erdogan Wins Re-Election In Turkey

The second round of Turkish elections delivered a clear victory for authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, beating his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu with 52 percent of the vote, per Axios, extending over two-decades long rule for five more years. The election was considered mostly free, according to the Washington Post, but Erdogan enjoyed “blanket media coverage” with 32 hours of coverage on Turkish state-run media compared to 32 minutes for his opponent. Pre-election raises to the minimum wage, raises for public sector workers, free gas, discounted electricity, and discounted electricity seemed to have boosted Erodgan's electoral standing, per FT, despite Turkey's ongoing economic crisis. Both campaigns leaned into nationalistic and bigoted rhetoric during the course of the campaign, with Erdogan baselessly accusing Kilicdaroglu of ties to Kurdish terrorists and Kilicdaroglu promising to deport “10 million” Syrian refugees in the country.

Survivors of Kissinger’s Secret War Reveal Unreported Mass Killings

In dishonor of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s 100th birthday on Saturday, I’d like to highlight a piece from the Intercept that came out last Tuesday, which uncovered previously unreported mass killings perpetrated by the U.S. military during Kissinger's secret war in Cambodia. The Intercept interviewed 75 survivors and witnesses from 13 different Cambodian villages and scoured government archives to document helicopter and bomber attacks on Cambodian civilians, as well as arson and looting from American and allied soldiers. Experts, such as the former director of the Genocide Studies Program at Yale, say that Kissinger bears significant responsibility for attacks that killed 150,000 civilians in Cambodia, six times the number of civilians killed in the “War on Terror.” Kissinger had a direct hand in planning attacks in Cambodia and concealed the actions from Congress, other top officials, and the public. The Intercept ties in previous scholarship and reporting detailing how Kissinger created a dual bookkeeping system that falsely logged airstrikes in Cambodia as happening in South Vietnam and directly backchannelled coordinates for strikes through the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


  • Kyiv Hit By Massive Russian Drone Attack At least one person was killed and another injured in the attack, the largest of its kind to date against the Ukrainian capital. via NBC News.
  • More than Half of UK Voters Want Closer Ties to the EU Even in regions that overwhelmingly voted for Brexit, twice as many respondents want closer ties with Brussels than want to keep their distance. via the Guardian.
  • Florida Think Tank Taking Credit for Work Requirements in Debt Ceiling Deal The Foundation for Government Accountability has become the arch enemy to food relief groups. via NBC News.
  • Colorado Limits Court-Ordered Reunification Camps These camps often forced children to reunite with abusive estranged parents. ProPublica’s investigation found that certain programs use physical restraint, threats and the removal of personal items to force children to comply with the program.via ProPublica.
  • AMLO Says No to Meatball Ron Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he hopes latinos in Florida don’t give Ron DeSantis a single vote. via NBC News.


$8.2 million

This is how much money Ron DeSantis raised in the first 24 hours of announcing his presidential run. Florida officials not working for the DeSantis campaign have been soliciting donations from lobbyists, in a possible violation of Florida election law. via NBC News.


5/29: Happy Memorial Day! In a pre-taped conversation, Sam chats with author and filmmaker Greg Mitchell about his most recent work entitled "Memorial Day Massacre: Workers Die, Film Buried, streaming on PBS.


Matt Walsh Spews Bigoted Rant Against Teachers

Insane parents filed a police report against a teacher who offered a book that talked about LGBTQ+ identity for her middle school class. Of course, the worst right wing pundits villainized her.

'Who Is Q' Finally Solved? | Will Sommer | TMR

In this clip, Sam admits that creating a Q-type character has crossed his mind. Hmm interesting.


“You can’t let staff run you. The person in charge has to be the guiding post.”

-- Senator Dianne Fienstein to her biographer Jerry Roberts in the 1990s per a New York Times report on her office. Her staffers are now running things as they tell her where to go, how to vote, and shield her (and themselves) from the press and public scrutiny.

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This is how much money Ron DeSantis raised in the first 24 hours of announcing his presidential run. Florida officials not working for the DeSantis campaign have been soliciting donations from lobbyists, in a possible violation of Florida election law. via NBC News.5/29: Happy Memorial Day! In a pre-taped conversation, Sam chats with author and filmmaker Greg Mitchell about his most recent work entitled "Memorial Day Massacre: Workers Die, Film Buried, streaming on PBS.