Why House Freedom Caucus were the biggest 'losers' of all in the debt ceiling battle

Why House Freedom Caucus were the biggest 'losers' of all in the debt ceiling battle

The U.S. economy dodged a major bullet on Thursday night, June 1, when the U.S. Senate voted 63-36 to raise the country's debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had been warning that if Congress didn't get some type of budget worked out soon, the U.S. economy would begin to default on its debt obligations on Monday, June 5 — setting off an "economic and financial catastrophe."

After the budget agreement that President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) worked out passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, 314-117, on Wednesday, May 31, it went to the U.S. Senate for consideration. Liberal Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and conservative Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) reached an agreement as well, and the debt ceiling bill is now headed to Biden's desk to be signed into law.

Members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus tried to derail the Biden/McCarthy agreement, hoping it would die in the House and never make it the Senate. But their efforts proved fruitless.

READ MORE: 'Cruel and shortsighted': Progressives blast Biden-McCarthy debt ceiling deal

Those efforts are the focus of two early June articles: one in the liberal-leaning The New Republic, the other in the conservative Bulwark. And between the two, the Freedom Caucus' campaign against the bill is slammed from both the left and the right.

In The New Republic, journalist Michael Tomasky stresses that ultimately, the Freedom Caucus were the biggest "losers" of all in the debt ceiling battle.

"Well, I'm officially not scared of the Freedom Caucus anymore," Tomasky declares. "The big losers in this debt deal? Not Joe Biden, by a long shot. Politically, he's the biggest winner. Not Kevin McCarthy. He did what politicians normally do — he cut a deal — and he's still the speaker. Not the Democratic Party's left; 46 of them voted against the bill, but that was all orchestrated so that some Democrats could protest the cuts in the deal while Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries made sure the party as a whole backed their president. I'm certain Pramila Jayapal, the House Progressive Caucus chair who voted 'no,' supports Joe Biden no less fully today than she did yesterday."

Tomasky continues, "No — the losers are the Freedom Caucus. Remember six months ago? Two months ago? They were going to kill this deal, submarine their own speaker, cost him his job, and send the country into default and the world into economic chaos…. Where does this leave the Freedom Caucus? Completely and utterly toothless. They whined, but that's really about it."

READ MORE: 'Indefensible' Republicans demand 'capitulation' in debt ceiling crisis: Rachel Maddow producer

In The Bulwark, Never Trump conservative Will Saletan slams Freedom Caucus members for playing Russian roulette with the U.S. economy.

"On the Republican right," Saletan explains, "there's a cluster of (House) lawmakers who voted no — or who urged their colleagues to vote no — in part because Democrats endorsed the bill. To these lawmakers, anything the other party supports is suspect. This cluster of Republicans — what I call the antagonism caucus — is a subset of the House Freedom Caucus…. The antagonism caucus doesn't rely entirely on Democrats as a sign of what to avoid. It also steers away from anything supported by moderate — or even reasonable — Republicans."

The "antagonism caucus" members, Saletan laments, were willing to put the U.S. economy at risk simply to express their disdain for Democrats.

"Partisan polarization is bad for governing and policymaking," Saletan warns. "It's sad when public servants rely on negative tribalism, not affirmative principles, to guide their conduct. And in the case of the big national challenges such as defending Ukraine and paying America's debts, it's particularly dangerous."

READ MORE: Janet Yellen gives hard deadline for GOP to end economic hostage situation

Find The New Republic's full article here and read The Bulwark's full article at this link.

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