This week, President Biden and House Republicans remain deadlocked in their negotiations about debt. Except, not really.

As I write, the so-called debt ceiling debate has nothing at all to do with debt. President Biden submitted a budget proposal earlier this year that would fund the social safety net and the rest of the government — and reduce the deficit by $3 trillion. Republicans shot it down because they won’t raise taxes on the rich one dime.

They’re also calling for more spending on the next biggest driver of debt, the military. All the while they’re lambasting “Democrat spending” and calling for harsh cuts to social programs — by far the smaller part of the budget Congress sets each year.

So it’s not about debt. It’s about priorities, as our next two authors show.

Maryland Walmart worker Cynthia Murray writes about not being able to afford retirement while her boss banks $169 million in a tax-favored account. And Joyce Kendrick, a Poor People’s Campaign leader from Ohio, writes about life-saving programs that helped her live with a disability, which are now on the chopping block.

Why not end those tax breaks for centimillionaire CEOs to fund robust Social Security benefits for all? Why shred the safety net just when it started to work?

Those are the questions our leaders are arguing over — not debt.

New This Week…

There’s No Debate Over Debt — Only About Priorities | Peter Certo
If the GOP cared about debt, they’d stop cutting rich people’s taxes and give the Pentagon a haircut. So what’s this really about?

CEOs Get to Retire Comfortably. Workers Like Me Deserve the Same. | Cynthia Murray
Our tax laws shouldn’t protect giant CEO retirement accounts when my coworkers and I can’t afford to save at all.

The SNAP Expansion Helped Me Lead a Dignified Life on Disability — Now It’s Gone | Joyce Kendrick
Pandemic social programs were a life saver for me. Not only have they expired, but now conservatives want to shred what little is left.

Cartoon: Court for Sale! | Khalil Bendib
Highest court, lowest prices.

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If you work for a living in this increasingly unfair economy — or just watch TV — you have a stake in the Hollywood writers strike.

Over-the-Counter Birth Control Would Be a Game Changer | Sonali Kolhatkar
Amid a widespread assault on reproductive health care, more accessible birth control would be a landmark moment.

To Protect Our Children, Tax the Rich | Sam Pizzigati
A campaign to curb greed was key to the first fight against child labor. With GOP states putting young kids to work, we need that battle again.

Armed and Afraid: The High Price of Fear | Svante Myrick
As more senseless shootings claim lives, it’s time to turn away from apocalyptic rhetoric and focus on what actually makes us safer.

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Peter Certo

Peter Certo is the communications director of the Institute for Policy Studies and editor of

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