The looming debt ceiling stand-off between lawmakers in Washington, DC, is evidence of corporate America’s waning influence over an increasingly populist Republican Party.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced last week that the United States had hit its debt limit of $31.3 trillion and estimated the Treasury would be able to use “extraordinary measures” until June to keep the country from defaulting on its exorbitant runaway debt.
Republicans desire spending cuts – something Democrats do not want – to offset raising the ceiling. President Joe Biden has said he would not negotiate with GOP on the matter, even though he acknowledged last week that politicians “need to focus on making sure we do not accumulate more debt.” Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reiterated Biden’s stance on Tuesday, saying that the ceiling should be raised “without conditions,” as the Washington Post’s Tony Romm noted.
Corporate America, which has had the ear of Republican politicians for decades, is pressuring lawmakers to raise the ceiling by the deadline. But Republicans, who have gradually abandoned corporate interests in favor of the interests of working-class constituents in recent years, are not as beholden to entities like corporate lobbyists as they once were, before former President Donald Trump’s populist agenda began transforming the GOP, as a pair of consultants outlined to NBC News.
“The importance and sway that many big business groups had at one point is no longer important to the folks on the far right that we saw in the speakership fight,” said one of the consultants who did not want to be identified as he or she works with these corporate interests. The consultant added that “nothing the Chamber of Commerce or a Fortune 500 CEO or anyone aside from maybe Donald Trump says is going to sway them.”
Sam Geduldig, a former senior advisor to former Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and a co-CEO at CGCN lobbying firm, emphasized that “[t]he constituencies that Republicans are increasingly representing skew working-class” and that these voters “want to disrupt the status quo and the establishment, which includes big corporations.”
“The establishment generally wants to preserve the status quo. So I think we’re having a class war, and it’s playing right out in front of us in Congress,” he added.
A Rasmussen Reports poll conducted last week found that the majority of Americans preferred a partial government shutdown instead of increased spending, as Breitbart News reported.
Some GOP lawmakers have floated social security and medicare cuts. Democrats, including the president, have worked to amplify such a narrative and are attempting to counter it with proposals for tax increases.
Trump sternly cautioned Republicans against making a single change to social security or medicare “to help pay for Joe Biden’s reckless spending spree” but enthusiastically endorsed cuts to other spending initiatives, including cutting “hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars going to corrupt foreign countries,” cutting “the mass releases of illegal aliens that are depleting our social safety net and destroying our country,” ending radical gender programs in the military and nixing funding on “climate extremism.”
“Cut waste, fraud, and abuse everywhere that we can find it, and there’s plenty of it, but do not cut the benefits our seniors worked for and paid for their entire lives. Save social security, don’t destroy it,” he warned.