Debt Ceiling Vote is a Parade of Partisanship

Not a single Republican in the House or Senate voted to increase the debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion, without which the United States would soon go into default. Here's how the Wall Street Journal covered the story:

Underscoring how both parties have largely retreated to their respective corners,* the House voted Thursday to raise the government's borrowing authority to $14.3 trillion with no Republican support.

I don't like nitpicking newspaper stories for latent bias, but this strikes me as a completely unfair sentence.


The fact that every Republican in the House and Senate cast a vote to take Treasury to the brink of default does not underscore how "both parties" have retreated to their corners. It underscores how deeply Republicans have dug in their heels as a party of utter opposition, even when the practical implication of their votes would wreak havoc on the market. Sadly, this vote and this WSJ sentence combined underline exactly how easy it is for a party to run an obstructionist agenda while escaping blame for obstructionism.

US debt faces a middle- and long-term crisis -- there is no argument there -- but voting against raising the government's borrowing authority as the Treasury is one month away from hitting the ceiling is an utterly impractical vote. Passing the legal ceiling would put Treasury in default on its debt obligations, gutting the value of government bonds and sending unfathomable shockwaves through international markets. Every Republican in Congress just voted for that, and today's news is: Look how partisan both parties are being. Weird.

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*Also, 37 Democrats voted with the Republicans against raising the debt ceiling. Not sure how that fact corroborates the claim of mutual partisanship, either.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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