The debate over raising the debt ceiling and President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda reminds me of the title of a 1965 song released by the Four Tops on the Motown label – “That’s the Same Old Song.”

I see both parties making the same arguments, addressing the same criticisms to their opponents and making the same threats. And I watch the media give the same warnings, promise the same disasters unless something gets done, and treat every deadline as if it were the biggest in human history.

In fact, almost everything you’ve seen over the past few weeks – the swagger, the whining, the prophecies of doom – was predictable as it has happened multiple times over the past several decades. As I wrote in my April 11, 2011 column in Roll Call: “Congress often waits until time is running out before tackling big issues, whether it be spending or policy. … But the current hyper-partisan political environment makes it even less possible than usual to negotiate deals well before midnight. This is because party leaders and activists spend most of their time playing for each party’s political base, rallying supporters behind their platform, and mobilizing their base against the opposition.

Remember that the “hyperpartisan political environment” I referred to in this column mirrored the mood of 2011. Since then, the environment has become even more polarized.

The parties have experienced a similar struggle over President Barack Obama’s health bill in 2009-2010 and the budget in 2011. The dynamics are much the same. As I wrote in that previous column: “Instead of getting the deal they might have had four or five months earlier, Democrats on Capitol Hill have been beating their drums for the public option of keeping the party base under tension. It helped Democratic fundraising and made Liberals (both on Capitol Hill and Base) feel good about the President and leadership of Congress. Democrats eventually passed a health care reform bill that did not include the public option only when the alternative was not a bill at all. The Liberals, of course, were less than happy with the outcome, but at least they could accept that the party leaders fought to the last possible moment for the best bill, only compromising when absolutely necessary. necessary.

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