This is normal: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is rebuffing a White House demand for $150 billion in spending cuts as debt ceiling deal negotiations continue, according to a Democratic official close to the talks.”
Negotiations will continue throughout Friday. Pelosi had set a deadline of Friday night for a deal, to give the House enough time to provide legislative text to members ahead of a vote next week. The House is scheduled to leave for August recess on July 26, the Senate on Aug. 2. According to Bloomberg, the administration has provided a list of programs to cut totaling $574 billion, telling Pelosi to pick from it for the $150 billion in cuts it’s demanding. Of course, there are no tax increases in the mix. Republicans don’t do revenue.
This is not normal: “As the federal government inches closer toward a potentially disastrous default on its debts, lawmakers and some Trump administration officials desperate for a budget deal have carefully maneuvered negotiations away from the man who has emerged as the common enemy: Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff.” Apparently both inside the White House and in Congress, senior officials tell The New York Times, he’s considered a “problem child” or a “troublemaker” or just “not helpful.” Given his penchant as a Freedom Caucus maniac for clamoring for government shutdowns and debt ceiling brinksmanship, they’re right to be trying to hustle him out of the way in all of this. Given that he’s also the most likely White House staffer to encourage Trump to do whatever the hell he feels like at the moment, it becomes even more urgent.
Because here’s the other thing that is really not normal and actually a little bit terrifying: It’s not entirely clear that Trump knows what the debt ceiling is. He was asked about the negotiations in a White House press availability Thursday, and said, “We’re working on the debt ceiling.” Then the word “debt” apparently started rattling around in what’s left of his brain, and he launched into a semi-coherent screed about President Obama and the debt. “Don’t forget, you know, the debt under President Obama added more debt than every president put together. So you’re talking about a debt ceiling: President Obama added $10 trillion during his eight years. He doubled the debt. He added more debt than every president—every single President put together. President Obama doubled—more than doubled the debt.” None of which is true, because of course it’s not, because it’s Trump. “So we’re talking about a debt ceiling,” he then wound down. “The previous president doubled the debt. And that’s what we get stuck with. That’s the way it is, folks.”
The thing is, they’re not the same thing. The debt ceiling is the nation’s borrowing limit: how the country pays for current spending but also how it keeps paying on what it owes so that we don’t go into default and bring down the global economy with us. The deficit is not that; it’s the difference between what the government takes in in revenue and what it spends, and by the way, it’s getting a lot bigger thanks to the Trump tax cuts. There’s no indication that Trump understands that distinction, that he knows what a default on our debt would mean. Because of course he doesn’t, because he’s Trump, and in his experience, defaulting on debts is how business is done.
With a mind that weak, it becomes imperative that they keep him separated from Mulvaney right now.