US President Joe Biden, accompanied by Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, arrives for the annual Friends of Ireland luncheon on St. Patrick’s Day at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on March 17, 2023.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
What the heck really did happen on Friday, when the Dow jumped 700 points on a strong jobs reading? Why such a viscerally positive reaction to an employment number that was hotter than expected? Was it because wages didn’t spike? Was it all that perfect — a Goldilocks report?
Here’s my take on Friday’s rally. Going into the debt ceiling crisis, there was a belief that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy couldn’t control his own Republican party. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer wasn’t much better off with the Democrats. Both had lost control of their parties to the extremists. That meant the United States would default on its debt. It seemed pretty logical.
I truly believe the extremists never believed a default would mean more than a few weeks of setbacks and more brinkmanship. Who can blame them? President Joe Biden lamely floated that he could invoke the 14th Amendment to avoid this and any future debt limit fights; the amendment includes a clause that some legal scholars say overrides the statutory borrowing limit set by Congress.
No matter what, it was pretty clear that chaos was our destiny. But when McCarthy and Biden agreed to temporarily suspend the debt ceiling and cap some federal spending in order to prevent a default, we got a deal that was even less contentious than the 2011 bargain. (The coming together brought to mind the legendary coalition of President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neil in the 1980s, memorialized in Chris Matthews’ “Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked.”)