Republicans and Democrats are deadlocked over spending cuts vs. hiking taxes

A Monday speech by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and President Joe Biden’s proposals are expected to float in tonight’s State of the Union (SOTU) address, highlighting the impasse that Republicans and Democrats find themselves in over spending and debt. They highlight the absurdity of both sides’ negotiating positions.

Biden wants to raise the U.S. debt ceiling—that is, the amount of debt owed to the U.S. government that already stands at $31.4 trillion. McCarthy-led Republicans in the House of Representatives say that’s not happening without other spending cuts.

If we don’t raise the debt ceiling, the federal government won’t have enough money to pay its obligations starting in June. This can set off a cascade of negative economic effects.

“Raising the debt limit is not about new spending; it’s about paying for previous choices policymakers made in legislation,” note Leonard Burman and William G. Gale for the Brookings Institution. But raising the debt limit without cutting spending or raising more revenue simply ensures that we can make it down the road.

Republicans want to solve the problem with deep cuts in federal spending. McCarthy reiterated this in Monday’s speech.

“A responsible debt limit increase that begins to eliminate wasteful spending in Washington and puts us on the path to a balanced budget is not only the right place to start, it’s the only place to start,” he said. “Now we must return Washington to a fundamental truth: the debt issue. The debt ceiling is one of the most important opportunities for Congress to change course.”

Republicans say they won’t raise the debt ceiling without lowering spending—a move Biden and Democrats are trying to portray as reckless and cruel, oblivious to the disaster a default on the bond could cause.

The absurdity of Biden’s framing is that Democrats aren’t just helpless bystanders here. They may choose to compromise and cut costs, and McCarthy and co. The debt ceiling will go along with the increase. But the Democrats are not willing to budge here either.

The absurdity of the Republican position is that they refuse to consider cuts that might be politically unpopular, including cuts to Medicare, Social Security, or military spending. They have remained relatively vague — including McCarthy’s speech Monday — about where those cuts will be made and how we move toward a more balanced budget.

In any case, “the White House has said it will not discuss the debt ceiling but is open to separate talks on deficit reduction,” notes The Wall Street Journal. And, as usual for Democrats, Biden’s side wants to do it by raising taxes.

In his SOTU speech tonight, Biden is expected to call for more tax increases. But like Republicans who refuse to consider cuts to popular entitlement programs, Democrats are cowards here. Rather than admit that the only way to finance their soaring spending ambitions is through broad tax increases and other measures that resonate across the board, Biden prefers to pretend that we can spend endlessly by collecting more money from the very rich.

“Below [Biden’s] plan, no one making less than $400,000 a year will pay more taxes,” the White House insisted yesterday, repeating a promise Biden made on the campaign trail and over the past two years. But many experts disagree with that claim; at best, the math is unclear. .

In tonight’s speech, Biden is expected to call for the “billionaires tax” again. He also wants to quadruple the amount of tax that companies pay when trading shares. from Financial Times:

The new proposal that Biden will unveil on Tuesday is a quadrupling of the 1 percent excise tax on share buybacks, which was passed as part of last year’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and was fiercely opposed by businesses. Biden administration officials have frequently blasted companies, including oil groups, for returning money to shareholders through buybacks instead of investing in their communities or rewarding workers.

Biden will repeat his efforts to enact a tax on billionaires’ unrealized investment gains, which he championed throughout 2022 but failed to secure in the final round of negotiations on the IRA after a backlash from some Republicans and moderate Democrats.

But, as times Notes, “Biden’s calls for higher taxes on high-income families and big businesses have had limited success over the past two years, when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress and will face more resistance with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.”

free mind

“Geofence warrants are part of everyday police business these days.” lamented Tim Cushing Techdirt. “Instead of proceeding with a list of suspects, law enforcement agencies seek information on everyone in a specific area at a specific time and go back to probable cause to investigate and arrest.”

The FBI used geofence warrants in its investigation of protesters on January 6—one of whom challenged the use of the warrants in court, filing a motion to suppress data obtained through the warrants.

A court has now denied the motion to suppress. “The Ruler [PDF] “There are generally some issues with geofence warrants from the D.C. District Court, but not this particular one,” Cushing noted. The court also held that there is no expectation of privacy in anonymized location data Supreme Court Reference carpenter The decision, it says, is that collecting large amounts of data related to hundreds of devices is not the same thing as collecting data targeting a specific device over a period of days or weeks.”

There’s more on the Cushing decision and what it means here.

free market

Texas lawmakers want to ban some immigrants from buying property. becauseFiona Harrigan has more details:

As it currently stands, Texas law guarantees that “an alien has the same real and personal property rights as a United States citizen.” That may not be controversial — but a new bill is looking to add some big exceptions.

Senate Bill (SB) 147, introduced in November by state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), would bar any “person who is a citizen of China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia” from buying property in Texas. SB 147 would also block government and corporate entities in those states from buying or acquiring property in the state. Last month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announcement He will sign the bill if it passes.

When he introduced SB 147, Kolkhorst cited “extremely disturbing” examples of foreign companies buying property in Texas and elsewhere in the United States. But some aspects of the law itself are troubling, and its vague wording opens the door to questionable state action—against citizens who have nothing to do with the evils of their government.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has said he will sign the bill if it passes.

Quick hit

• New York City Mayor Eric Adams will end the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for public employees.

• Google released its own artificial intelligence tool, Bard, to compete with ChatGPT.

• “Has Lina Khan ever won a case?” ask The Wall Street Journal.

• “Former President Donald Trump’s legal assault against media outlets suffered another court loss Friday, when a federal judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed against his 2020 re-election campaign The Washington Post,” comments becauseIts CJ Ciaramella.

• “The family of a 12-year-old girl in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against police and the city after an off-duty police officer allegedly kneed the girl in the neck while trying to break up a fight. involved,” reports ABC News.

• Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s misguided war is on the rise. (See also: “Florida’s War on Drag Targets Theaters’ Liquor Licenses.”)

• Indiana lawmakers move to legalize throwing stars.