Robert Reich: The Debt Ceiling Debacle Is Not A ‘Partisan Standoff’ – OpEd


The credit-rating agency Fitch put the nation’s AAA rating on a watch list, citing “increased political partisanship” over the debt ceiling. I just heard ABC attribute the standoff on the debt ceiling to “polarization” in Congress. NPR blames the fight on “hyper-partisanship” in American politics. Reuters blames the stalemate on lawmakers “digging in on partisan positions.” 

“Partisan standoff” is the way most of the media is now characterizing the fight. 


Enough with the “both sides” reporting on the debt ceiling. 

The current fight over raising the debt ceiling — and the growing possibility the United States might default on its debts — is not because of partisanship. It’s not due to political polarization. It’s not because lawmakers are “digging in” to “partisan positions.” 

Republicans alone manufactured this looming disaster.

In order to become Speaker, Kevin McCarthy made a deal with rightwing MAGA House Republicans to use the debt ceiling as a way to hold America hostage, and force the Biden administration come begging. 

McCarthy and his band of MAGA crazies don’t give a fig about the national debt. Hell, they had no problem raising the debt ceiling three times under Trump — while providing trillions in tax cuts for the rich. 

This current fight is entirely theirs. 

The “both sides” reporting is misleading the public and giving a free pass to McCarthy and his extremists. 

I admire Joe Biden but he should not have allowed the media to so badly mischaracterize what’s happening. He never should have begun negotiating with McCarthy. Biden has the bully pulpit; he should have addressed the nation by now, pointing out that this fight is manufactured entirely by House Republicans. 

The media’s reporting is inexcusable.

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

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