Stephen Colbert turned on his best Willy Wonka impersonation to explain budget reconciliation and the inner workings of Congress.
Stephen Colbert Channels Willy Wonka to Explain Congress
Colbert said on Wednesday’s Late Show, “I hope everyone in America is using protection, because it is very possible that we are all ruined.” The government of the United States might shut down in about 24 hours, and that’s not even the worst of it.
Colbert noted that the U.S. government is approaching the debt ceiling, and if Congress is unable to raise it in the future days, it might cause the nation to default on its debts for the first time in history.
To quote another economist, “it would be financial Armageddon.” That’s horrible news, and it couldn’t come at a worse time, considering the United States has already planned for the epidemic, climate change, and the collapse of the democratic system. Can we put that in for next Wednesday? Maybe a lunch-mageddon?”
The host continued to wonder how the United States could be on the verge of a fiscal default while Democrats, who are generally in favour of lifting the debt ceiling, are in power.
“Look no farther than the comic stylings of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY),” Colbert added, leading the audience to boo. On Monday, McConnell and the other Republicans staged a filibuster to prevent the government from getting paid and the debt ceiling from being raised. This calamity, then, is entirely preventable.
Colbert then compared the situation to knowing there was a life-saving treatment during pandemic and not taking it, adding, “Oh oh, wait, wait, wait. Maybe we might infuse the budget with horse paste?”
McConnell’s Plot to Undermine [Joe] Biden’s $3.5 Trillion Build Back Better Plan
Colbert elaborated, saying that “it’s all part of McConnell’s plot to undermine [Joe] Biden’s $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan,” which can only pass through a budget process called reconciliation that shields fiscal bills from a filibuster. Senators, it is true, do enter a realm of reconciliation once a year for the purpose of casting a single vote.
The emcee then put on a purple top hat, took up cane, and performed a parody of “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to illustrate he budget reconciliation process.
“Come with me, and you’ll be / In a realm of reconciliation / It’s our lone medicine / Except for pure intoxication,” sung Colbert, later adding, “Reconciliation is a phantasmagorical place of legislative wonder, where everything can happen. Maybe even something!”
The host then made fun of Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) for opposing the $3.5 trillion package without specifying their demands.
Even if Democrats were prepared to employ reconciliation, Colbert said, they would have to pass four bills at once: one to raise the debt ceiling, one to finance the government, the Build Back Better bill, and the infrastructure package.
All fifty Democrats in the Senate must approve the plan for it to go through reconciliation, but Senators Manchin and Sinema have both declared they oppose portions of the $3.5 trillion bill.
“But they have yet to publicly detail their demands. They have the entire government hostage, but they won’t say why.