WEDNESDAY UPDATE: However the vote plays out later today, we’ll always have this meme-able moment:
“It’s just a huge fail on our part.”
If the internets are on the job, you’ll be seeing this everywhere.
Congressperson Lauren Boebert is mad as hell, and she’s not going to take it anymore!
As readers of Colorado Pols well know, Boebert really only has one tool in her political playbook: “Voice loud opposition to [TOPIC OF THE DAY].” You’ve heard her talk, again and again, about all of the things that everybody else is doing wrong, from President Biden to her own caucus leader, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. What you’ve never heard her say is a sentence that begins with, “I have an idea…” or “Maybe we could try…”
Boebert is an original MAGA Republican who worships at the golden desk of Donald Trump – a former President who was always one week away from announcing his health care plan or his infrastructure proposal. Boebert is also a proud member of the House Freedom Caucus – as is Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) – which was formed in 2015 with the stated purpose of being against things.
All of this is to say that Boebert is incredibly ill-equipped to deal with the massive political problem facing both her and the United States: Raising the debt limit to avoid a catastrophic global financial recession. The second-term Congressperson has painted herself into a corner that will make her one of the big losers of this debate no matter how things turn out in the end.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, Biden and McCarthy worked out an apparent deal to raise the debt ceiling and prevent the United States from defaulting on its financial obligations for the first time in history. The next step in this process is already fraught with obstacles. As The Washington Post explains:
In the first test of a bipartisan deal on the debt ceiling, a key House committee will meet Tuesday to determine whether the agreement comes to a full vote, all while the country inches closer to next week’s default deadline.
The House Rules Committee — typically the first stop before legislation can go before the full House — will convene with attention fixed on a handful of far-right Republicans who could thwart the future of a deal struck over the weekend by President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Two of the committee’s nine GOP members — Reps. Ralph Norman (S.C.) and Chip Roy (Tex.) — belong to the Freedom Caucus and have come out against the deal.
“The Republican conference has been torn asunder,” Roy said at a Freedom Caucus news conference Tuesday, where members of the hard-right caucus took turns bashing the deal and lamenting that McCarthy, in reaching a deal with Biden, had broken the GOP’s unified front.
Just last month, Boebert voted for McCarthy’s original debt ceiling proposal – one that was DOA in the Senate – but she’s now back on the “very angry” side of the ledger. She called the Biden-McCarthy deal a “stab in the back” and took her turn to complain loudly at a Freedom Caucus press conference on Monday:
Fake news = things MAGA Republicans don’t like https://t.co/T74mMGV0Oj
— Republican Accountability (@AccountableGOP) May 30, 2023
It is not entirely clear that Boebert really understands what is at stake or even how this all works. Debt ceiling discussions are NOT about spending cuts; raising the debt ceiling is needed in order to pay for things that have already been approved by Congress in prior years, like former President Trump’s tax cut for wealthy Americans in 2019. Raising the debt ceiling is akin to paying your credit card bill – it has nothing to do with what you plan on purchasing next.
But Boebert is now a loud voice in opposition to a debt ceiling deal because, well, that’s her shtick; she desperately wants to keep her D-list celebrity status as one of the GOP’s loudest voices against stuff. As we know from recent polling data, however, Boebert’s constituents in CO-03 would prefer that she do more to represent them.
Not raising the debt ceiling would be devastating for the world economy, but also for Colorado directly [check out this fact sheet from the White House for more information]. Costs would go up and benefits would go down for families, seniors, and veterans in Boebert’s district. Boebert’s outspoken opposition to a deal that would prevent a default doesn’t change the fact that she also committed herself to voting FOR devastating cuts in the form of McCarthy’s budget – messaging that Democrats will get to use against her in the next campaign.
Sure, Boebert’s colleagues in the Freedom Caucus, including Ken Buck, have taken similar positions. But Boebert is distinguished from them for two reasons: First, she’s the only Freedom Caucus member in a competitive race; and second, unlike Buck, she voted for the McCarthy budget in April.
And what will Boebert do if this internal Republican battle escalates to an attempt at ousting McCarthy from the Speaker’s chair? House Freedom Caucus member Dan Bishop (R-NC) is calling for a challenge to McCarthy; this is a process that McCarthy had to allow as part of negotiations in January to make him Speaker in the first place.
Nothing says, “I’m focused on issues important to the people of Montrose” like failing to prevent a government default and then ousting your own Speaker after less than six months.