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Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Washington focuses on debt ceiling while America yawns


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Now listen: We’ve covered enough of these negotiations to know that there could be another dozen twists and turns between now and the announcement of any agreement. The last yard is always the toughest one.

But the signals we were getting Wednesday night from Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s leadership team were positive. They feel like they are on the brink of what could be a very substantial agreement.

We also want to lay down a marker once again and tell you that the anger in the House Democratic Caucus right now is palpable. Many rank-and-file Democrats feel as if they’re going to be asked to vote for a package that is slanted toward Republican demands with little for them in return.

Been on the trail (SC/NH) all week and the debt limit drama just isn't front of mind for people. Candidates only briefly mention it as a DC dysfunction thing... Haley talked more about Bud Light than debt limit.

— David Weigel (@daveweigel) May 25, 2023

Heather Long/Washington Post:

Here are President Biden’s debt ceiling options, ranked

Short-term extension​

Congress has enacted many short-term extensions to avoid default. It could do so again, but five House Republicans would have to join all Democrats to vote for it. This is not a given.

Opinion: What would U.S. default actually look like? ‘Financial Armageddon.’

Senate vote or House “discharge petition”​

The Senate has largely left this negotiation up to the White House and House Republicans. But if something close to a two-year freeze is on the table, the Senate could vote on it to pressure Republicans. House Democrats have also lined up a discharge petition, which allows a bill to be brought to the House floor with 218 signatures. (There are 213 House Democrats.)

The 14th Amendment comes in at #5, and Mint the Coin at #6. Neither are very palatable to Biden, who thinks (probably correctly) that the markets will not react well.

He’s not a risk taker, and that’s part of why he was elected.

I will use every procedural tool at my disposal to impede a debt-ceiling deal that doesn’t contain substantial spending and budgetary reforms. I fear things are moving in that direction. If they do, that proposal will not face smooth sailing in the Senate.

— Mike Lee (@BasedMikeLee) May 25, 2023

Wait, I thought Biden pre-caved weeks ago.

Obviously Dems would have preferred to keep up with inflation but that’s the kind of outcome you can more plausibly sell as a normal approps deal with a GOP controlled house. Does depend on clawing back $10B from IRS (and maybe some other $ we don’t know yet)

— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) May 26, 2023

Max Burns/”The Third Degree” on Substack:

Ron DeSantis' Twitter DeBacle

DeSantis' Very Online presidential announcement was plagued with errors both technical and strategic

But while Twitter is the Internet equivalent of freebasing a barrel of unlabeled club drugs, it’s less than effective at actually electing presidents. DeSantis once dismissed Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign as nothing more than the product of teenage Twitter activists. Now the Very Online Right is so ascendant that DeSantis wouldn’t dare go anywhere else to make his announcement — even if appealing to the GOP’s Twitter addicts hurts his campaign.

you only get one announcement/campaign launch. what a great first impression for a people person like Gov DeSantis pic.twitter.com/Cnk3IGrBjK

— Greg Dworkin (@DemFromCT) May 25, 2023

Politico Playbook:

Why DeSantis’ disastrous launch matters

Team DeSantis immediately tried to spin it
as evidence that the governor’s immense popularity “broke the internet,” to paraphrase one campaign release. That’s not true, of course: The internet was just fine; the launch is what had problems. And if his popularity is so vast, it seems odd that after the Twitter Spaces restarted, half of the audience from the first attempt never returned.

Let’s be clear: This was a bad night for DeSantis.

It was supposed to be a tabula-rasa moment — a chance to reset the narrative around his campaign, which has seen its poll numbers drop and Trump’s lead widen. It was a moment to project strength and competence and give his donors and supporters a reason to get excited again.

Instead, a different narrative is taking hold …

Judge: "It's really not my job to pass judgment on the (OathKeepers) organization. It's my job to pass judgment on Mr. Rhodes" Judge blasts Rhodes for turning "positive attributes" against the country

— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) May 25, 2023

LA Times:

Oath Keepers’ Stewart Rhodes sentenced to 18 years in Jan. 6 attack

Prosecutors, who sought a 25-year sentence, said Rhodes remained a threat to American democracy more than two years after he led a plot to forcibly block the transfer of power from Trump to President Biden after Trump lost the 2020 election…

Rhodes and Meggs were the first people in nearly three decades to be found guilty at trial of seditious conspiracy. Meggs is expected to be sentenced after Rhodes later Thursday, and two other Oath Keepers will be sentenced Friday. Four other defendants convicted of seditious conspiracy are to be sentenced next week.

The convictions were a major blow for the Oath Keepers, which Rhodes founded in 2009 and which grew into one of the largest far-right anti-government militia groups. Recruiting past and present members of the military and police officers, the group promotes the belief that the federal government is out to strip citizens of their civil liberties and paints its followers as defenders against tyranny.

Washington Post:

The deepening radicalization of Donald J. Trump

Watch how the former president’s positions and rhetoric have grown more confrontational and extreme as he seeks a second term

On this and a host of subjects, from sexual assault to foreign and domestic policy, Trump’s positions have become even more extreme, his tone more confrontational, his accounts less tethered to reality, according to a Washington Post review of Trump’s speeches and interviews with former aides. Where he was at times ambiguous or equivocal, he’s now brazenly defiant.​

Embracing extreme positions is nothing new for Trump: Since launching his 2016 campaign by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and then pledging to ban Muslims from entering the country, he has promoted divisive policies, made inflammatory comments and prompted constitutional showdowns with Congress and the courts. But a return to the White House, in Trump’s own articulation, would be his chance to take revenge on his political opponents and push even further on his most polarizing programs.

The hardening of Trump’s stances comes as he has been operating for more than two years without the official apparatus of the White House, putting fewer gatekeepers and layers of review between him and the public. It also follows a long list of grievances he has accumulated from his eight years in politics.

Loving guns but fearing poetry is so Republican. https://t.co/JX3NFfDWZm

— Mark Jacob (@MarkJacob16) May 24, 2023

Thomas B. Edsall/New York Times:

Is the Surge to the Left Among Young Voters a Trump Blip or the Real Deal?

There is a lot about the American electorate that we are only now beginning to see. These developments have profound implications for the future of both the Republican and the Democratic coalitions.

Two key Democratic constituencies — the young and the religiously unobservant — have substantially increased as a share of the electorate.

This shift is striking.

In 2012, for example, white evangelicals — a hard-core Republican constituency — made up the same proportion of the electorate as the religiously unaffiliated: agnostics, atheists and the nonreligious. Both groups stood at roughly 19 percent of the population.

By 2022, according to the Public Religion Research Institute (better known as P.R.R.I.), the percentage of white evangelicals had fallen to 13.6 percent, while those with little or no interest in religion and more progressive inclinations had surged to 26.8 percent of the population.

On the debt limit:

A frustrated battleground House R tells me: “When GOP members signal they’re not supporting the Speaker it only means he’ll need more Dem votes to pass debt ceiling. This further undermines their priorities. These guys are shooting themselves in the foot.“

— Olivia Beavers (@Olivia_Beavers) May 26, 2023

And this from Cliff Schecter:

YouTube Video