America Government Regulations Robert Reich The Debt Ceiling


Following are the words of Professor Robert Reich, once upon a time the Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. He is now, and has long been, an American professor, author, lawyer, and political commentator. He also worked in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. I believe he knows the truth about what he is saying.



Few things make me as furious as the mainstream media’s reluctance to tell the public what the Republican Party is doing — and instead hide the truth behind “both sides” rubbish. How the hell can democracy work if The New York Times, CNN, and even National Public Radio obscure what’s really going on?

Let me state five central truths about the pending fight over the debt ceiling and show you how the mainstream media is distorting each of them.

Truth #1: The fight is being waged solely by the Republican Party. The Democrats did not pick this fight. When Trump occupied the White House, Republicans voted to increase the debt limit three times without incident. Over the last quarter century, it has been raised over a dozen times.

You wouldn’t know this from the way it’s being covered. Last Thursday’s Times, in an article titled “Months Before a Potential Crisis, Both Parties Kick Off a Fiscal Blame Game,” leads with the wildly false equivalence that:

“Members of both parties are intent on painting the opposition as culpable for the turmoil that would result from a catastrophic default on the debt this summer….

Administration officials say Republicans are provoking an unnecessary crisis by insisting on deep spending cuts …. [But Kevin McCarthy] has started early trying to lay the blame at the feet of Democrats instead. As Republicans vow to extract spending cuts in exchange for an increase in the debt limit, Mr. McCarthy insists it is Mr. Biden and his allies in Congress who are acting cavalierly by refusing in advance to negotiate on such reductions, and they who are risking upheaval if they do not shift their position. The clear inference is that whatever happens will be the fault of Mr. Biden and Senate Democrats.

CNN is no better. Anchor Erin Burnett has framed the fight as “a dangerous game of chicken,” in which “Republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling without any strings attached,” while “the White House — well, they are going to the opposite extreme.” 

White House going to the opposite extreme? Hello?

CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox even describes Republicans and Democrats as “retreating to their corners” and “sticking to their political talking points.”

Truth #2: The fight has nothing whatever to do with controlling the national debt. It has to do with paying the nation’s bills. The “debt ceiling” is merely an accounting convention. The national debt is comprised of obligations already incurred. If Republicans were serious about controlling the national debt, they’d be willing to consider tax increases — including repeal of the giant Trump tax cut that went mostly to big corporations and the very rich. But the national debt isn’t on their minds.

Yet the mainstream media is intent on treating this as a fight over the national debt.

On CNN’s major political talk show last Sunday, anchor Jake Tapper suggested to Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) that it would be “irresponsible” for the GOP not to force a fight over the debt ceiling, saying, “We have these crazy deficits, crazy national debt. It’s $30 trillion right now … Isn’t it time that Congress takes this seriously? And would the Republicans be irresponsible for not forcing this conversation?” In an interview with the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, Tapper said that it’s “a problem” that “the U.S. government spends a lot more money than it takes in” and that Democrats are unwilling to negotiate. “Republicans say they are willing to come to the table to discuss raising the debt ceiling but they also want to discuss negotiations to reduce future government spending. … Are you willing to at least sit down and see if there is a deal to be made in any way?” 

Truth #3: For the last half century, Democratic administrations have been more fiscally responsible than Republican ones. I was part of Bill Clinton’s administration, which balanced the federal budget after Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush had racked up record deficits. Obama cleaned up after George W. Bush’s runaway spending and tax cuts. The Trump administration added a whopping $7 trillion to the national debt.

Yet if you watch or listen to the mainstream media, you’d think that the two parties are equally fiscally irresponsible and will be equally at fault for whatever happens next.

Introducing a pair of segments, CNN anchor John Berman said “Republicans refuse to budge on demands and Democrats refuse to budge on negotiations.”

Truth #4: The real reason Republicans are waging this fight is they see it as a backdoor way of attacking the two most popular (and largest) safety nets in the federal government: Social Security and Medicare. They dare not take on these programs directly. But the GOP believes that negotiating over the debt ceiling gives them an opportunity to begin to shrink these programs.

The mainstream media barely mentions this underlying strategy. Politico refers to raising the debt limit as a “political stalemate” and describes the positions as: “Conservatives want a deal that includes spending cuts, but the White House says meeting the country’s obligations should be non-negotiable.” 

Truth #5: The act of holding the full faith and credit of the United States hostage is the economic equivalent of aiming a nuclear missile at the American (and world) economies and demanding concessions. It’s not a bargaining tactic. It’s a terrorist tactic.

Yet the mainstream media makes it sound as if Republicans have long used fights over the debt ceiling to counter Democratic spending. Consider this, in last Friday’s The New York Times, in an article titled “A Political Fight is Again Putting the Economy at Risk.”

Republicans, in particular, have used the passage of bills increasing the limit as leverage to try to force spending cuts on Democratic administrations …. If lawmakers have a problem with spending, the debt ceiling offers a way to protest….

The media are even blaming Democrats for not negotiating over the debt ceiling. On NPR’s Morning Edition, political correspondent Susan Davis said, “For now, McCarthy is the only leader at the negotiating table.”

Of course McCarthy is the only one at the negotiating table. The Biden administration and the Democrats are not negotiating because raising the debt ceiling should be non-negotiable.

Friends, I’m not even talking here about Fox News or its many far-right imitators. I’m referring to the so-called “moderate” mainstream media that most Americans rely on for their news.

The pending fight over raising the debt ceiling is complicated. If the mainstream media gets it wrong, how do we expect most Americans to get it right?


By rawgod

A man with a lot of strange experiences in my life. Haven't traveled that much per se, but have lived in a lot of different areas. English is the only language I have mastered, and the older I get, the more of it I lose. Seniorhood gives me more time to self-reflect, but since time seems to go much faster, it feels like I don't have as much time for living as my younger selves did. I believe in spiritual atheism and responsible anarchy. These do not have to be oxymorons. Imagination is an incredible tool. I can imagine a lot of things.

11 replies on “MAINLY FOR AMERICANS, AND THOSE AFFECTED BY THEM — The Debt Ceiling Debate”

What is so unfortunate about all this hullabaloo is the average American citizen hasn’t a CLUE on what the actual discussion revolves around. For them, it’s much easier to just accept what their selected political icons are saying … through the news media of their choice.

Liked by 1 person

For some reason I hadn’t been receiving your posts…glad you’re back. Re: RR, I couldn’t agree with him…and you by extension…more. The networks and the mainstream press are so caught up in false equivalencies, they give both sides too much rope…but clearly the GOP crazies more. Of course, then there’s Fox, the self-described “Fair and Balanced” news source!

Liked by 1 person

This is good information, rawgod. It gives the perspective from both sides. I have a huge problem with mainstream media and all of the different outlets that seem to be talking in circles or pushing a bias more than reporting the actual news. It’s frustrating to say the least. I sometimes feel like the news is more entertaining than informative. It’s like sitting in the corner of a high school lunch room awaiting a food fight thinking, “Hmm. Which of these fools is going to get food splatted in their face today?”

Liked by 1 person

News entertaining? You may be right (even when you’re Left!) The real problem is, the news providers are in it for profit, and if they appear to support the Democrats they are biting their own asses. The Democrats are liable to raise taxes, especially on the wealthy! They like not paying taxes, because that takes money out of their pockets. It doesn’t matter they already have more money in those pockets than they can ever spend before they die. Just having the money is their only goal, and that makes it mandatory they make Republicans look like the good guys.

Liked by 3 people

I agree…money makes the world go around…If you have it, you oppress with it. If you don’t have it, you struggle to have a voice.

I remember when there was ABC, NBC, and CBS news. That was it. Grandma would watch Dan Rather go all over the world reporting on the news, and it meant something. I honestly miss the days when being a journalist meant that you were an investigative reporter without being allowed to have bias. If you reported on something that was unproven, you probably didn’t keep your job for very long. I remember the integrity, so this news we watch today is definitely entertainment…like reality TV minus some reality 🤩

Liked by 2 people

Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
On Tuesday, I read, saved and bookmarked Robert Reich’s newsletter about the debt ceiling, planning to share it sometime soon, but I hadn’t gotten around to it yet. Meanwhile, our friend rawgod beat me to the draw, so in the interest of not re-inventing the wheel, I shall re-blog rg’s post! Please take a few moments to read this piece, for it clears up some miscomprehensions about what the debt ceiling is and how critical it is to the very survival of this nation. Thanks, rg!

Liked by 1 person

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