The GOP’s No-Win Scenario in the Debt Ceiling Fight – The Republican Party is barely hanging on by a thread. Yes, it won a slim majority in the United States House of Representatives, but the overall performance of the GOP in the 2022 Midterm elections was lackluster. This came on the heels of the Republicans’ defeat in 2020.
The GOP needs to consolidate its power and prepare for what will likely be a bruising 2024 Presidential Election.
Instead, the House Republicans appear poised to live up to the caricature that the Democratic Party has created for the Republicans: that the GOP is a bunch of racist, wealthy, detached dilettantes who hate poor people and want the needy to suffer.
Debt Ceiling War: The No-Win Scenario
I’m talking about the pending fight over the debt ceiling.
This is the Kobayashi Maru test of the Republican Party in 2023: their no-win scenario. In the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, we learn that as a young Starfleet cadet, Captain James T. Kirk took a test that he was supposed to fail. The Kobayashi Maru was designed to put young cadets into a “no-win scenario” to see how they’d handle the stress of that situation.
In the film, Kirk explains that he hacked into the simulation computer and “changed the conditions of the test” the night before. He cheated so that he could, in fact, win. The film explains that Kirk was given a commendation for his “original thinking”.
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and his leadership team need to change the conditions of the pending debate. Because, as it stands, the GOP is going to lose big in this debate.
Sure, many rock-ribbed conservatives in the Republican Party will welcome the clash over the debt ceiling; they’ll even be fine with the country defaulting on its debt.
Of course, no one will be sanguine with the outcome of that reality—as their pensions dry up, inflation goes through the roof (you think it’s bad now, just wait), the unemployment rate goes up to nine percent, interest rates spike even higher, and the resulting stock market crash sees trillions in household wealth evaporate.
Removing Oneself from the Equation
The Democrats who led the way in spending us into oblivion won’t be blamed (though, over the years, successive Republican congresses and presidents helped the Democrats along). The voters will remember only who caused them the immediate pain of economic decline. They will most likely overwhelmingly blame the Republican Party for the economic crash that will follow the Republicans’ refusal to raise the debt ceiling.
The Republicans aren’t wrong when they insist that we cannot keep kicking the proverbial can down the road on resolving the debt ceiling. We must, according to the Right-wing, address the unfolding crisis of our national debt before it destroys us.
But why must it be now, before we have any real power to influence the debate the way we should?
Congress should agree to a temporary raising of the debt ceiling with intentions to return to the matter on a more permanent basis after the 2024 election—hopefully when the GOP has some real power to influence matters.
Retreat to Move Forward
In the case of the debt ceiling fight this year, the Republicans would change the conditions of this particular test by simply choosing not to take the test. Look, the spending is already baked into the cake; any time the Republicans try to stop the spending, they lose at the ballot box.
Going into 2024, that’s not the time to start this fight. Such a plan will ensure the Republicans lose both the White House and maybe even the House of Representatives. Everyone likes talking about saving taxpayer dollars—until it affects their cherished program, then everyone suddenly becomes mini-FDRs.
So, Republicans should table this discussion until a more advantageous time can be arrived at (which would be after the GOP holds the House, gets the White House, and hopefully returns to majority in the Senate as well). They will not win this fight beforehand and they may do significant damage both to the party and their country.
Prudence, a virtue sorely lacking in Washington, is the best course of action.
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Author Expertise and Biography
Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who serves as a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive.com. Weichert is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as a contributing editor at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower(Republic Book Publishers), The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (March 28), and Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.
March 10, 2023 at 10:42 am
It seems Republicans only care about the deficit, when the Dems are in the White House. They didn’t seem concerned when Trump gave trillions away, via tax breaks for the wealthy. All in all, Trump added over 7 trillion dollars to the deficit. Where was all this crying about the deficit then? If the wealthy paid the same tax rates as working Americans, we wouldn’t have a deficit at all. What’s really ironic about this, is subsidies for corporate America and the rich, dwarfs spending for social services programs, including all food supplement services. So who are the real “takers”, hint for you, it isn’t the poor.
March 10, 2023 at 3:03 pm
Is Mr Weichert proposing that Republicans lie to the voters in 2024, when asked about their deficit reduction plans? Because it sure sounds like it.
If I read Mr Weichert correctly, he wants the GOP to stay silent on their plans before the election, and only introduce their real plans – huge spending cuts that will hurt a lot of people – when they hold power in Washington.
It does sound quite dishonest.
March 10, 2023 at 5:56 pm
Spending cuts need to happen. Someone won’t be happy with them. Continuing to pile up debt only ends one way. Insolvency.
The cuts needed to be made a long time ago.
March 10, 2023 at 6:07 pm
We need to go to a no deficit budget immediately.
Start paying back the national debt or we will be history.
So yes, there has to be a debt ceiling war.
March 12, 2023 at 11:43 pm
The author says wait. But wait for what? There are no guarantees for the 2024 election. We could end up with a Republican President and one or both chambers of Congress in Democrat hands. We could have a Democrat President (whomever) with one or both chambers in Republican hands. Then what? Wait more? Sooner or later this has to be faced. The consequences of whatever action is or is not taken have to be faced. Crunch time comes at some point no matter what. Republicans must force the Democrats hand sooner or later, for waiting will not avoid that in the end. The Democrats will trot out their same old scare talking points no matter when a confrontation is forced. A reckoning will have the effect of ‘cleansing the system’. No eventual reckoning will mean a far worse explosion down the road. Spending and programs across the board must be cut and reformed, including the massive military spending. One way or another, the gauntlet must be thrown down at some point. If the Republicans explain the situation succinctly so the public understands what is at stake, they can prevail. But they need to start mustering the skill, the will, and ability to do so—now.