Now that House Republicans have finally elected a speaker, talk has turned to their agenda. It will likely come in three forms. The first is that they'll pass a lot of "show bills" that have no chance of clearing the Democratic-controlled Senate - much less being signed by President Joe Biden. For example, first up will be an attempt to defund the addition of IRS agents passed by the last Congress.
The second item on the agenda will be a return to Benghazi-style committee "investigations" designed to hurt Biden and his administration - perhaps even lead to impeachment votes.
What these two items have in common is that they continue to employ the performative politics that have come to define the current GOP. Nothing will actually be accomplished, but they'll allow the stars of the show to produce sound-bites for right wing media.
The third item on the agenda is actually the one to be concerned about. House Republicans have made it pretty clear that they will refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless they get concessions on a reduction in federal spending - even though failure to raise the debt ceiling would trigger a global economic crisis.
Much of the discussion about the GOP agenda has focused on this danger. What hasn't been addressed is how utterly hypocritical it is. You might remember that it was in 2011 that Republicans first tried to use the debt ceiling to hold the country hostage.
The U.S. government’s budget deficit ballooned to nearly $1 trillion in 2019, the Treasury Department announced Friday, as the United States’ fiscal imbalance widened for a fourth consecutive year despite a sustained run of economic growth...Of course the deficit ballooned exponentially when the pandemic hit - culminating in a familiar pattern: deficits go up under Republican presidents and down under Democratic presidents.
It is unusual for the government to run such a large budget deficit during a period of economic growth, because spending on unemployment and other benefits tends to contract and tax revenue often grows. But the White House and Congress have contributed to the deficit’s surge by enacting large spending increases and passing the 2017 tax cut law.