Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that he and his Radical Republican minions will not vote to raise the nation's debt limit, threatening, perhaps, a credit default by the U.S. government.
This particular bit of Congressional kabuki has been a partisan shuttlecock in Congress for many years now, with Republicans posturing up to the last minute before the hapless Democrats cave and give the insurrectionists what they want—whatever it takes to keep the "full faith and credit" of the United States worth something.
The last time the Republicans tried this—during the Obama administration—the credit rating of the United States was cut a notch, for the first time ever.
The House of Representatives has passed a debt ceiling raise, and now it's up to the feckless Senate—hampered by the My-Donors-Love-the-Filibuster Democrats Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to do nothing.
As Augustus might have said, 'Congress must govern! I'll gladly give up this power when Congress proves it is capable of performing its duties. Until then, however…'
Well, here's a plan for President Joe Biden: Ignore Congress.
A forceful, assertive president could use a showdown with the combative Senate to assume the kind of strong executive power over government spending that previous administrations have taken on in other areas—most notably in war-making. Indeed, a recurrent theme throughout the entire history of the U.S. government has been the usurpation of legislative power by the executive–from Thomas Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase, to Lincoln's conduct of the Civil War, to Woodrow Wilson to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, all the way down to Donald J. Trump, who, of course, raised executive disregard for Congress to a new level altogether.
A president operating in that tradition could easily force Congress into the kind of secondary role that presidents have long envisioned.
Since Congress is deadlocked and unable to do anything, Biden could simply choose to ignore them and instruct the government to carry on business as usual. The Treasury will go on selling bonds and writing checks. Evoking emergency powers–remember this is still war-time because we have been living under war-time presidential authority for 70 years—Biden could assert that Congress has stopped functioning and he alone is left to operate the government.
As Augustus might have said, "Congress must govern! I'll gladly give up this power when Congress proves it is capable of performing its duties. Until then, however …."
The president would have to make the case to the country: Congress has refused to do its duty and that without his action, the soldiers would have no bullets, retirees no money and travelers no air traffic controllers.
Congress would have two choices: remove this president from office or acquiescence. While the Radical Republicans in the House might clamor for impeachment, there's no chance any vote would even take place. And as we know now, whatever the House does, the Senate would never convict.
While I recognize that this scenario is a progressive's nightmare and that this president hasn't the fortitude for such action, it is clearly a tough, assertive way to put the blowhard, antigovernment Republicans in their proper place. It's certainly just the kind of thing that a Lincoln, Truman, Nixon, even a Reagan would consider. And any of them would do.