, , , , , , ,

Persephone supervising Sisyphus in the Underworld, Attic black-figure amphora, c. 530 BC, Staatliche Antikensammlungen
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


“Republicans played a dangerous and risky partisan game, and I am glad that their brinkmanship did not work,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader. “What is needed now is a long-term solution so we don’t go through this risky drama every few months.”

The New York Times, published on 8 October 2021 and updated on 9 October 2021

Debt Ceiling Bill Approved by Senate – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

The Deal: a Stopgap

  • the “risky drama”
  • partisanship
  • 6 January 2021

The “risky drama:” Sisyphus

The above quotation is an excerpt from an address by Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer of New York. What could happen in early December is a repetition of last week’s refusal, on the part of the Republicans, to raise the debt limit. What could also happen in December is a repetition of the tempoary stopgap Republicans agreed to. It is a “risky drama” happening “every few months.” Such an endeavour would be Sisyphean, i.e. both futile and absurb (see Absurdism, Wikipedia). Sisyphus would carry the boulder up the hill, but it would fall downhill over and over again. Therefore, the goal is “a long-term solution” to prevent not only a default, the first ever, which would be calamitous, but also to end the perpetuation of debt ceiling crises.


Partisanship has grown to such an extreme that it has blinded certain Republicans. Die-hard Republicans do not view their refusal to raise the debt ceiling as potentially calimitous. They do not see default as harm inflicted on themselves, the citizens of the United States, and a global economy. It seems that all they see is a target they must eliminate: President Joe Biden and his administration. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has stated that they, the Republicans, nearly “defeated” their opponent, but that their leadership, which would be Senator Mitch McConnell and others, failed them. No, Senator Mitch McConnell did not fail Republicans. Senator Mitch McConnell did what he had to do as a representative of the people of the United States. We may suspect that the temporary deal was reluctant governance, but it was governance. The ship was sinking.

“We were on the verge of victory, but we turned that victory into defeat,” Mr. Cruz said in a lengthy speech on the Senate floor, calling it a “strategic mistake by our leadership.” But, he added, “Chuck Schumer won this game of chicken.”

Debt Ceiling Bill Approved by Senate – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

6 January 2021

The deal was a blessing, but it is Sisyphean. It would threaten a currently fragile American democracy. In Mr Trump’s eyes, his defeat was “fake news.” It was news so fake that he is still planning to take over the Presidency of the United States, an attack on democracy. Mr Trump has denied that he incited rowdy supporters to assault the Capitol, but he did invite rowdy supporters to walk down “Pennsylvania Avenue,” which seems Unamerican. Moreover, he “savaged” Senator Mitch McConnell warning that the stopgap was a “terrible deal.”

“Making matters trickier for Republicans, former President Donald J. Trump chimed in on Wednesday to savage Mr. McConnell for “folding to the Democrats,” suggesting that Republicans should instead force a showdown on the debt limit, which economists, business leaders and government officials have said would be disastrous. Less than an hour before a scheduled vote, Mr. Trump again urged Republicans not to vote for ‘this terrible deal.’”

Debt Ceiling Bill Approved by Senate – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Pennsylvania Avenue
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday shared a letter addressed to President Joe Biden that recalled three times the Democrat objected to GOP-driven debt ceiling increases during his time in the U.S. Senate. Above, McConnell walks from the U.S. Senate chamber to his office at the U.S. Capitol on September 30, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (MSN News)


The Debt Ceiling Crisis of 2006

As Senator, Joe Biden Opposed GOP Debt Ceiling Votes and Mitch McConnell Hasn’t Forgotten (msn.com)

  • the management of the American economy
  • a fiscal impediment
  • flaws in the system

In 2006, the Republicans, Senator Mitch McConnell was No. 2 in George W. Bush‘s administration. The Republicans lacked the two votes that would enable a rise in the debt ceiling. So the United States was engaged in the Iraq War (2003-2011). Future President Obama and senator Joe Biden opposed a rise and have since faced criticism for doing so. If a country cannot pay its debt, one suspects a degree of carelessness. Americans, however, are confronted with a fiscal problem arguably rooted in the Confederates‘ defeat in the American Civil War (1861-1865). President Abraham Lincoln emancipated the slaves (Proclamation 95) and the North (the Union) won the Civil War, not the Confederates. There was a time when slavery was acceptable, but now, the rich often look for tax havens and they oppose social programmes. Therefore, the national pot of gold is not as replete as it could be. Would that the perennial debt ceiling crises always reflected a bad year but, to a certain extent, they also reflect fiscal impediments and flaws in the system.

As Senator, Joe Biden Opposed GOP Debt Ceiling Votes and Mitch McConnell Hasn’t Forgotten (msn.com)

The Debt Ceiling Crisis in 2021

But the year 2021 was a bad year. Twenty years after the United States entered Iraq, the Taliban took over the government of Afghanistan, which led to the rapid and costly evacuation of Afghanistan. Covid-19 and the evacuation of Afghanistan proved extremely costly. So will the debt ceiling crisis: self-inflicted harm.

Finance Executives Say Risk of Default Is Already Damaging the Economy – The New York Times (nytimes.com)


I will close by saying that, in the year 2021, there were several assaults on democracy. Last week debtceiling crisis was the epitome of futility and absurdism, but it may not happen again. “What is needed now is a long-term solution…” (Chuck Schumer)


Love to everyone 💕

Arnold Shoenberg: Die Eisener Brigade
File:Lady Liberty under a blue sky (cropped).jpg
The Statue of Liberty, NY

© Micheline Walker
11 October 2021