The Biden administration successfully negotiated a deal — soon to be passed in Congress — that will allow the federal government to borrow the money it needs to meet its fiscal obligations over the next couple of years.

Despite avoiding a massive U.S. debt default that would have reverberated across the global economy, progressives and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are not exactly in a celebratory mood, and with good reason.

Some of the provisions contained in the debt ceiling bill, known euphemistically as the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, follow the logic and politics of austerity. Programs designed to help the working class and contribute to our common good are effectively cut. Meanwhile, defense spending is exempt from any freezes despite the Pentagon’s inability to account for billions of dollars in their annual audits.

Republican lawmakers often tell us that the purpose of budget cuts and more stringent requirements to access social benefits is to reduce waste and the federal deficit. But if this were truly their goal, they have an unusual way of achieving it since they adamantly refuse to consider raising new taxes on the ultra-wealthy.

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Chuck Collins directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he also co-edits Omar Ocampo is a inequality researcher at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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