Finally a deal? As the window of opportunity to avoid US default narrows, the White House and negotiators continued Friday to craft a compromise fraught with political ulterior motives.
“We’re close (to a deal) but it’s not done yet,” a source close to the discussions said, casting doubt on the possibility of an announcement on Friday.
“We made progress yesterday, and I want to make more progress today,” said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the main Republican protagonist of this political-finance soap opera.
But to put pressure on Democratic President Joe Biden, he said, “Nothing is certain until everything is agreed upon.”
There is no shortage of pressure on this issue, which is difficult to understand outside the US and outside the Washington bubble in general.
The challenge is getting Congress — the Republican and Democratic Senate — to vote quickly enough to raise the public debt ceiling, or America could find itself post-1.R Failure to pay in June is an unprecedented situation with devastating economic, financial and social implications.
This parliamentary maneuver has long been a formality for both parties. But this time Republicans are demanding cuts in public spending in exchange for their green light.
Officially, Joe Biden refuses to negotiate and believes he is being held “hostage”. In fact, advisers from both camps have been talking non-stop for days and have already agreed on some key lines, according to several US media outlets.
Find agreement… and do damage control
The deal would freeze some spending, but not affect budgets earmarked for defense and the military, reports said for example. The New York Times Where The Washington Post.
It will be deferred for two years after the next presidential election, until the risk of default.
The challenge is to avoid economic disaster and allow each camp to limit the damage at the political level.
Kevin McCarthy, who needs to cement his status as House speaker, can be credited with pushing for more budget austerity, while Democrats will say he protected social benefits or big investment projects.
The US president, campaigning for re-election, explained Thursday that “two opposing visions” are at work in these debates.
He cast himself as a champion of social and financial justice, demanding that the rich and big corporations “pay their fair share” of taxes, and portrayed Republicans as the party of big money and Wall Street.
But according to the press, the 80-year-old Democrat, in talks with Republicans, has given up on increasing the amount of resources dedicated to the fight against tax evasion.
If a deal is found, it still needs to be approved by the Senate, narrowly controlled by Democrats, and the House of Representatives, where conservatives have a weak majority.
The parliamentary calendar is constrained: Many elected officials have returned to their homes across the US for a multi-day break over the “Memorial Day” long weekend.
And some progressives in the Democratic Party have threatened to either not approve or delay as long as possible a text that would make too many concessions to the opposition camp, as have some elected representatives of the Republican Party.
Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy must play center stage to mobilize a majority of lawmakers in each party, a particularly difficult exercise in a country where political divisions have widened significantly in recent years.
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