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The Debt Ceiling Soap Opera, in Subtitles

Moscow and Beijing have been hard at work spinning the debt ceiling standoff into domestic propaganda.
Moscow and Beijing have been hard at work spinning the debt ceiling standoff into domestic propaganda. Photo: Pavel Byrkin/AFP via Getty Images
Julia Ioffe
May 9, 2023

Last week, when Avril Haines, the Director of National Intelligence, testified in front of Congress, she had something to say about the body’s toying with the debt ceiling. Their little game of chicken, she said, was playing right into the hands of America’s main adversaries, Russia and China. “It would be almost a certainty that they would look to take advantage of the opportunity,” she said, to play up “the chaos within the United States, that we’re not capable of functioning as a democracy.” A debt default, she added, would unquestionably “create global uncertainty about the value of the U.S. dollar and U.S. institutions and leadership, leading to volatility in currency and financial markets and commodity markets that are priced in dollars.”