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Kevin McCarthy’s debt-limit deal is a win for Republicans & the nation

Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s debt-limit deal with President Joe Biden is a compromise, of course: Less good than the House-passed bill, but far better than anything the White House or the Democratic-controlled Senate would ever produce on their own.

The key is that it advances the GOP’s control-spending agenda significantly, on multiple fronts.

Most crucially, it starts reducing federal outlays immediately, rolling back most domestic non-entitlement outlays to the prior year’s levels — that is, it cuts some spending rammed through when Democrat still ran the House.

That by itself is the first such major spending-reduction ever.

It also claws back tens of billions in unspent “COVID relief.”

And it adds some work requirements for food stamps (SNAP) and Medicaid, common sense but a very bitter pill for the left to swallow (even though similar rules existed for years here, and apply in many other advanced nations, without ill effect).

It eliminates at least the first year of Biden’s planned new IRS agents — leaving the future years’ adds to be axed before they can take effect.

Kevin McCarthy

It also adds some budgeting/appropriations rules that should prevent another “omnibus monster” — passing a vast, unexamined spending bill at year’s end to avoid a government shutdown.

Republicans won some other policy gains, particularly the first reform in decades of environmental rules that slow major energy and infrastructure projects, as well as an end to the president’s student-loan payment holiday.

No, it absolutely doesn’t “starve the beast”: Uncle Sam will still spend well beyond the taxpayers’ means. But it’s a start.

Yes, it kicks the next debt-limit fight off until 2025: The GOP can’t use the universally-agreed need to avoid default (or emergency spending cuts purely at White House discretion) to get more Democratic concessions until then.

But Republicans still have other opportunities to do that, and this ensures that these issues will be central to the 2024 elections, which should be a boost to the GOP nominee.

Republican and Democratic purists in Congress will both refuse to vote for the deal. But moderates and pragmatists in both parties should back it.

The voters have chosen divided government for now, so compromise is inevitable.

Credit McCarthy with playing his cards well enough that this compromise is a lot closer to the GOP’s vision than the Dems’.