The Ticking Debt Clock

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Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • A coalition government in Pakistan was formed on Tuesday, after elections last week failed to give one party a ruling majority. The parties that received the second- and third-most votes—the Pakistan Muslim League (PMLN) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), respectively—will support consensus choice Shehbaz Sharif, the brother of PMLN candidate and three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. “Forget and forgive; forgive and forget—come let’s join hands for the betterment of the country,” Shehbaz Sharif said yesterday, hoping to move Pakistan beyond protests that erupted over the weekend over charges of a rigged election. The coalition will not include representation from independent candidates aligned with jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which won the most seats in the election. Khan said yesterday that PTI-aligned members will not sit with either party.
  • In the chamber’s second attempt to do so in recent days, the House of Representatives voted 214-213 on Tuesday evening to impeach Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, marking the first time a Cabinet secretary has been impeached since 1876. Three Republicans—Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, and Rep. Tom McClintock of California—once again joined with all Democrats to vote against impeachment, but Majority Leader Steve Scalise returned from cancer treatment Tuesday morning to cast the deciding vote. “There are two primary grounds justifying this historic act by Congress. First, Mr. Mayorkas willfully refused to comply with the law, blatantly disregarding numerous provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act,” Rep. Mark Green, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, wrote in an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal last night. “Second, Mr. Mayorkas breached the public trust, both by violating his statutory duty to control the border and by knowingly making false statements to Congress.” The articles of impeachment will next be delivered to the Senate, where Mayorkas will stand trial and is unlikely to be convicted by a Democratic majority. “History will not look kindly on House Republicans for their blatant act of unconstitutional partisanship that has targeted an honorable public servant in order to play petty political games,” President Joe Biden said in a statement released last night.
  • The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave special counsel Jack Smith one week to respond to former President Donald Trump’s emergency request to pause the case regarding his attempts to overturn the 2020 election while his legal team appeals the claim that he is immune from criminal charges. A three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last week unanimously rejected Trump’s argument that he cannot be charged in relation to his actions on January 6, 2021, because of his presidential immunity.
  • The Consumer Price Index rose 0.3 percent month-over-month and 3.1 percent annually in January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday, up from 0.2 percent and down from 3.4 percent in December, respectively—and slightly above economists’ expectations. High housing costs were one of the largest factors in the report, and stocks tumbled yesterday as the data seemed to increase the odds that the Federal Reserve will hold interest rates steady at its meeting next month rather than beginning to lower them.
  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was released from Walter Reed Military Medical Center on Tuesday, resuming duties remotely as he recovers at home. Austin entered the hospital on February 11 after experiencing “discomfort and concern from a bladder issue related to his December 2023 prostate cancer surgery,” according to a statement released by his doctors, who noted that the bladder issue should have “no effect on his excellent cancer prognosis.”
  • Former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi was projected to win a special election in New York on Tuesday night, defeating Republican Mazi Pilip by approximately 8 percentage points to flip the seat of former GOP Rep. George Santos following his expulsion. The victory will further narrow Republicans’ slim majority in the House for the remainder of the year. In another special election last night, Pennsylvania Democrats were able to maintain their slim majority in the state House after winning an open seat in the 140th state House District, which includes the northern Philadelphia suburbs of Bucks County.

Where Have All the Deficit Hawks Gone?

(via Getty Images)

“We just heard, about an hour ago, that our government eclipsed the $16 trillion amount in our national debt,” then-vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan told supporters at an Iowa campaign stop in September 2012. “This is a serious threat to our economy.” Ryan’s running mate, Mitt Romney, made federal spending and debt one of his campaign’s central issues—even delivering stump speeches with a running national debt clock on stage behind him while he spoke.

Looking back, 2012 may have been the high-water mark for political interest in addressing America’s debt. A dozen years later, that $16 trillion has ballooned to more than $34 trillion, and there appears to be little appetite in either party to slow that trend, let alone reverse it. But economists warn that the current fiscal trajectory—made painfully clear in last week’s Congressional Budget Office (CBO) 10-year budget and economic outlook—could soon begin imposing the economic costs that the deficit hawks of yesteryear warned of.  

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