A game of political chicken

It’s that time of the DC season when debt ceiling politics reemerges. While the political theatrics will be hammy, the risk of a US government default remains low. In the end, bipartisan “Rescue Committees” could be the new Simpson-Bowles.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made news yesterday when he said Republicans are going to pass the buck when it comes to voting to raise or suspend the debt ceiling. “I can’t imagine a single Republican in this environment that we’re in now — this free-for-all for taxes and spending — to vote to raise the debt limit,” McConnell said…


When President Biden signed an executive order (EO) this month promoting competition in the American economy, he was swearing off his Senate identity as a defender of corporate interests and embracing his “Scranton Joe” roots as a fighter for workers and small businesses. While this competition viewpoint may not be reflective of ordinary voters, it speaks to a push among Democratic elites to rethink and push the envelope on antitrust and competition as part of the broader agenda to reshape the role government plays in a market-based economy.

Biden Channels the Roosevelts

In citing both Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt as antitrust pioneers…


Wall Street doesn’t underestimate Ken Griffin’s ability to make a market. It’s time they stop underestimating Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ability as well.

From Wall Street to K Street, the consensus is Democrats could fail in their attempts to pass a reconciliation tax and spending bill that bypasses Republican support. If they do pass one, it’ll be limited by what moderate Democrats can accept — below $2 trillion with an equal or lesser amount of tax offsets.

Investors are more focused on the question ‘what’s the maximum amount moderates will accept?’ But Democratic leadership is equally focused on the question ‘what’s…


From the mayoral race in NYC to the debates over infrastructure in DC, there’s a narrative of a progressive vs. moderate battle within the Democratic Party. In a two-party system, there are inevitably ideological differences but such divides are not always clear cut. When there is a divide within the ranks, Democratic leadership is looking to balance the competing priorities at the legislative, executive, and electoral levels.

(Mis)understanding “Progressives” vs. “Moderates”

There are some Democrats who can be defined as “progressives” and others as “moderates” but for the vast majority of Democrats the labels are squishier.

  • There’s not a clear definition of “progressive” and…

America is turning 245 this July 4th weekend, which feels like the same length of time “Infrastructure Week” has lasted in American politics (the math is a little fuzzy).

The questions on everyone’s mind are just how much longer Infrastructure Week will last and how will it end. We see things being in the third inning. There has been some legislative movement, the strategy for passage is coming into view, but that strategy has yet to be fully tested and the big legislative ticket items are still outstanding. My base case is that there will be approximately $4 trillion…


Participation awards are not just for Millennials and Gen Zers. President Biden and a group of 10 bipartisan senators (average age 67 between them all) yesterday at the White House touted their participation in coming to an agreement on an infrastructure framework that would provide $579 billion in new spending that combined with baseline spending would be either $973 billion over five years or $1.2 trillion over eight years. It’s “offset” with a host of non-tax pay-fors, including “dynamic scoring.”

In response, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sarcastically clapped, applauding their participation but rejecting the adage “a bird in…


“I want you to take good care of all the furniture and ornaments in the house, for I want to find everything just as it is now when we come back again four years from today.” — Frances Cleveland, the first lady to President Grover Cleveland, to the White House staff upon departing the premise after Cleveland lost his 1888 reelection (they returned four years later)

“We’re going to take back the Senate, take back the House, we’re going to take back the White House, and sooner than you think. It’s going to be really something special.” — President Donald…


The tax debate has been on the backburner as bipartisan infrastructure negotiations have sidelined any tax increases. But that will soon change when Democrats move towards budget reconciliation.

President Biden and Democratic leadership in Congress are getting ready to start the budget reconciliation process in an attempt to pass as much of the American Jobs Plan (AJP) and American Families Plan (AFP) as possible. Along with the $4+ trillion of spending from the AJP and AFP, Biden included $3+ trillion in tax increases. These tax increases were further detailed in the Treasury green book released last month. Biden and progressives…


With Memorial Day kicking off the unofficial start of summer, “Infrastructure Week” is in full swing this month.

When everything is being categorized as “infrastructure” these days, it’s easy to get confused about what exactly is being negotiated. There are three negotiations occurring on the infrastructure front. This includes bipartisan talks on a broader infrastructure deal, bipartisan talks on surface transportation authorization, and Democratic talks on the American Jobs Plan (AJP) and American Families Plan (AFP). …


There are as many deadlines in DC as there are screaming cicadas. President Biden said he wants to see “real progress” on infrastructure by Memorial Day, Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) said the state of bipartisan infrastructure talks will come to a head by Memorial Day, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has indicated she wants to pass an infrastructure bill out of the House by July 4th.

At her weekly presser last week, Pelosi declared, “I’m not a timetable person.” She was referring to the timing for passing legislation to create a January 6th commission. But the prospects of…

Ben Koltun

Made In Chicago | Policy Research @ Beacon Policy Advisors | Cookie Monster loosely based off of my life

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