Republicans in the U.S. House are insisting on cuts to the federal budget as a condition of agreeing to lifting the debt ceiling so America can pay back its creditors. But they’ve stubbornly refused to detail which programs and services they want to cut. President Joe Biden has insisted that he won’t hold the budget hostage to the debt ceiling. The New York Times’ Paul Krugman describes the GOP as blackmailers without a cause. 

So the bottom line on the debt crisis is that there is no bottom line: Republicans denounce excess spending, but can’t say what spending they want to cut. Even if Democrats were inclined to give in to extortion, which they aren’t, you can’t pay off a blackmailer who won’t make specific demands. Unfortunately, the emptiness of Republican fiscal posturing is no guarantee that we’ll avoid a debt crisis. If anything, it may make a crisis more likely. MAGA may lack policy ideas, but it’s rich in nihilism; Republicans don’t know what policies they want, but they definitely want to 

Meanwhile, The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman spoke to progressives about their ideas on what could be cut from the federal budget. 

The military is the place to start cutting, said Lindsay Koshgarian of the Institute for Policy Studies. “More than half of the military budget goes to contractors in an average year, subsidizing multimillion-dollar CEO salaries and stock buybacks, as well as cases of egregious overcharging,” she told me. … The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says tax expenditures are worth reforming so they cost less, especially the breaks that disproportionately help the wealthy, such as 529 college-savings accounts and 401(k) retirement accounts.

Domestic abusers can legally own a gun in Louisiana
People accused of domestic violence cannot be barred from owning firearms, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday. The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit means domestic abusers in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi can now legally own a firearm even if they still pose a threat to their partner or partner’s children. Vox’s Ian Millhiser reports on the changing legal framework that the U.S. Supreme Court and federal judges now use, which stems from the early days of the country when women were second-class citizens. 

Under this new framework, the government has the burden of proving that a gun regulation “is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation,” or else that regulation must be struck down. … If courts take this framework seriously, then it is questionable whether any law seeking to prevent domestic abusers from owning firearms may be upheld. The early American republic was a far more sexist place than America in 2023, and it had far fewer laws protecting people from intimate partner violence.

Louisiana ranks second in the nation for women killed by men, with the rate increasing for six consecutive years. 

Center Black women in policymaking
For reasons rooted in current and historic systemic racism, Black women in Louisiana are paid less, have a lower median household income and are more likely to live in poverty than their white counterparts. A new report from the Urban Institute explains how leaders can improve the well-being of Black women and all Americans by centering the former in income- and wealth-building policies. 

Prioritizing how policy decisions would impact Black women’s income and wealth outcomes is an important goal for evaluating priorities and investments. Policymakers should also advance the voices of Black women, generating outcomes and policies Black women would most like to see. Including Black women-led organizations and the voices of those most directly impacted in decisionmaking could spark new ideas and focus investments appropriately. Many policy proposals currently being discussed at the municipal, state, and federal levels would broadly impact Black women, even when the policies aim for universal coverage

State courts not following new jury law
In 2021, the Louisiana Legislature passed a law allowing people with past felony convictions to serve on juries. But new reporting shows that the law isn’t being followed in courts across the state, with many failing to update public facing materials to reflect the new eligibility. The Advocate’s Jillian Kramer and James Finn report on how courts not following laws affects the state’s legal system. 

While the mistakes are likely the result of faulty procedures for staying abreast of law changes, systematic exclusions across the state raise constitutional concerns for defendants and residents, legal experts say. Advocates argue the inclusion of people with felony convictions on juries leads to fairer trials — and some research bears this out: Jurors with felony convictions can “outperform” their counterparts, encouraging longer and more thoughtful deliberations. And while many Americans dread jury duty, at least one study shows those with felonies — people who, in Louisiana, are disproportionately Black men — often idealize it. Black men are historically underrepresented on Louisiana’s juries.

Number of the Day
582,462 – Number of Americans that were experiencing homelessness on a single night in January 2022. Federal pandemic relief programs helped blunt the number of new people experiencing homelessness during the Covid-19 pandemic. But those programs, such as rental protections, have ended or will end in the coming months. (Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)