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Jonathan Bernstein

Kevin McCarthy Is Propelling the US Toward Default

The House speaker seems unwilling to spend any political capital to negotiate a deal on the debt ceiling.

Not getting to yes.

Not getting to yes.

Photographer: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy sent a clear signal Tuesday: The chances of a debt limit breach and subsequent government default and economic calamity aren’t only very real, but fairly high. Probably higher than 50-50. Maybe a lot higher. And McCarthy has no idea how to get out of it.

McCarthy sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Tuesday morning ostensibly laying out demands for raising the debt limit in order to avoid a US government default. The missive, which hand-waved at a few policy generalities, wasn’t a real attempt to negotiate. Instead, the speaker’s effort seemed like an attempt to appease various factions within the House Republican conference.