Whereof One Can Speak 🇺🇦

Nothing special, one post at a time since 2012

Biden Needs To Be Ready To Act

“extort”: to obtain from a person by force, intimidation, or undue or illegal power.

In other words, if you don’t give me what I want, something very bad will happen to you. This is not the same as negotiation.

 “negotiate”: to confer with another so as to arrive at the settlement of some matter.

You’ll get something you want, I’ll get something I want, and neither of us will be too worse off.

Which brings us to the debt limit or debt ceiling:

Management of the United States public debt is an important part of the macroeconomics of the United States economy and finance system, and the debt ceiling is a limitation on the federal government’s ability to manage the economy and finance system. The debt ceiling is also a limitation on the federal government’s ability to finance government operations, and the failure of Congress to authorize an increase in the debt ceiling has resulted in crises, especially in recent years.

Prior to 1917, the United States did not have a debt ceiling, with Congress either authorizing specific loans or allowing the Treasury to issue certain debt instruments and individual debt issues for specific purposes. Sometimes Congress gave the Treasury discretion over what type of debt instrument would be issued.

Between 1788 and 1917, Congress would authorize each bond issue by the United States Treasury by passing a legislative act that approved the issue and the amount.

In 1917, during World War I, Congress created the debt ceiling with the Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917, which allowed the Treasury to issue bonds and take on other debt without specific Congressional approval, as long as the total debt fell under the statutory debt ceiling. [Wikipedia]

The story of the debt limit “crises, especially in recent years” begins in 2011. From Brian Beutler of Crooked Media:

Just as clear-eyed political analysts knew well before President Obama that Republicans would abuse the filibuster rule in an unprecedented way to stymie his agenda, they also recognized before the Democratic leadership that, after crushing Democrats in the 2010 midterms, Republicans would take the further unprecedented step of extorting Obama under threat of default. That’s why reporters asked then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid why Democrats, with their huge 2009-2010 majorities, wouldn’t neutralize the threat before Republicans took power. 

“Let the Republicans have some buy-in on the debt,” Reid said

This was the beginning of a fateful error that culminated in a significant shock to the economy, still hobbling out of the great recession, followed by years of indiscriminate, across-the-board discretionary-spending cuts, which Obama paid the Republicans in ransom.

This was supposed to be Obama-era Democrats’ biggest regret, one that they were committed never to relive. For the rest of Obama’s presidency he rightly refused to make unreciprocated concessions for further debt limit increases, and each time Republicans eventually caved. 

But it isn’t foreordained that Republicans will always cave, every time a Democratic president refuses to be extorted, from now through eternity. Republicans never forswore weaponizing the debt limit. Neither was their lurch further into extremism a piece of forbidden knowledge. Right out in the open, through the Obama and Txxxx years, Republicans have become significantly more aggrieved and vandalous, and because of that, permanently disarming the debt limit has become a matter of greater and greater urgency….

If Democrats were like Republicans, they would’ve treated turnabout as fair play, and held the debt limit hostage for ideological policy concessions after Txxxx took office. Of course, the parties aren’t similar, and Democrats never considered this, nor should they have: Extortion is extortion, and every bit as anti-democratic as stealing court seats, or elected offices. 

But I did think that when Republicans came to Democrats for help increasing the debt limit, Democrats should have made one demand: that in exchange for their votes, Republicans would have to relinquish the debt limit as a tool of extortion forever. This could have taken many forms: Outright debt-limit abolition, indefinite debt-limit suspension, a debt-limit increase of effectively infinite size, or the permanent delegation of authority to increase the debt limit to the executive branch. Either way, the idea was that Democrats should have had enough dignity to insist the parties be bound by a single set of rules, and make it the price of bailing Republicans out of a jam. 

Democrats instead gave their votes away for free….

By the end of the last Congress, with Republicans poised once again to control the House under a Democratic president, the idea that Democrats should use their narrow, lame-duck majorities to moot the debt limit grew into something like a clamor…. Democrats thus had to respond to it, and their response was: sorry, no. This time, they seemingly just didn’t have the votes. But Democratic leaders expended almost no public effort trying to whip them up. Instead they and their loyalists treated supporters to excuses ranging from ‘we don’t have enough time’ to ‘we are leaving the doomsday device armed and ticking on purpose!’ How better to force Republicans to produce a budget, which will contain unpopular policies, the better to run against?

So House Republicans have produced a budget. It’s filled with unpopular proposals they could never get implemented through the normal budget negotiations with the president and Senate that take place every year.

Their position is: give us all or much of what we want or we’ll create a financial crisis as bad or worse than the one in 2008. The government won’t have enough money to function and all hell will break loose. Extortion.

Biden’s position is: raise the debt limit, as Congress has always done before, and then we’ll negotiate the budget like we always do. Negotiation.

You might think it’s fine for Republicans to finally force Democrats to cut the spending Republicans want to cut and leave alone the spending Republicans want to leave alone. Do you think it would be fine for Democrats to do the same thing when there’s a Republican president? Regardless, letting a minority compel the government to meet its demands is not how a representative democracy is supposed to work. Democrats gave in to extortion before and they shouldn’t do it again.

Back to Mr, Beutler:

Democrats find themselves at a choosing moment once again, only this time, they lack the means to disarm the debt limit with new law. Their choice is between caving to Republicans and maneuvering aggressively to disempower them….

Biden should be prepared to leave Tuesday’s meeting with Congressional leaders and announce that if Republicans attempt to default on the national debt, his administration will protect the country.

… He can instruct the Treasury to continue auctioning bonds, and if Republicans then choose to sue the country into default, and the Republican-controlled courts choose to order the country into default, it will be on them. Biden could further justify this decision by referencing the 14th amendment, which holds the sovereign debt inviolable. [Other options have been proposed and are supposedly being considered.]

… We need Democrats who will stop treating the Republicans’ serial default threat as a prompt to outmaneuver them, and instead simply overturn the game board… Republicans are the minority, trying to impose their will on the whole country by threat of mass harm, and that isn’t compatible with freedom or self-government. It isn’t hard bargaining, it’s terrorism.

Anything less than continued, complete refusal to negotiate would, in a profound and troubling sense, represent a violation of the oath of office. In a more partisan sense, it would breach the trust of millions of voters who view the Democratic Party as the last line of defense against extremist depredations. It’s hard to imagine a clearer way to signal that, when push comes to shove, they’ll appease bullies, instead of standing up for us—and they’ll do it by handing over our lunch money.  

The country can’t survive in the long run if one shameless faction wields power in a consequence-free realm, while the other quietly acclimates itself to the mounting extremism. Eventually the trespasses will be incompatible with self-rule, and it will bring the whole republic down. 

Note: In a TV interview, when asked if he might cite the 14th Amendment in order to bypass the debt limit (the amendment says the nation’s debt should not be “questioned”), Biden said he’s “not there yet”.

They Want Biden to Negotiate with Extortionists

That’s not how the story is being reported, but it should be. From Dan Froomkin of Press Watch:

House Republicans are refusing to let the government keep paying its bills unless the Biden administration rolls back some of its signature achievements.

It’s a demand that neither the Senate nor Biden will ever agree to.

Raising the debt limit is a procedural move that allows the Treasury to make good on existing commitments. It’s not a budget bill.

But House Republicans appear to be ready to default on the debt if they don’t get their way. Such a default would be catastrophic for the U.S and world economies, and could permanently damage the dollar’s status as the de facto global currency.

Explaining it that way is simply good journalism.

But as usual, extremist Republicans have been enabled by media coverage that tries to split the difference, and treats what is essentially a hostage crisis created exclusively by one side as a normal, two-sided partisan squabble.

Indeed, our top political reporters now insist that the onus is on Biden to solve the problem.

Under the headline “Biden Faces His First Big Choice on Debt Limit,” New York Times reporter Jim Tankersley writes today that the issue “has put President Biden on the defensive, forcing him to confront a series of potentially painful choices at a perilous economic moment.”

Sure, Biden says he won’t negotiate, but “business groups, fiscal hawks and some congressional Democrats” want him to make a deal. So Biden, Tankersley writes, “faces a cascading set of decisions as the nation, which has already bumped up against its $31.4 trillion debt limit, barrels toward default.”

But the nation is not “barreling toward default,” nor is it “careening,” or even “drifting” there. It is being pushed there by Republicans.

Washington Post reporter Jeff Stein set off Internet pundits and the Post’s own readers over the weekend with his article headlined “Biden is running out of time to avoid calamitous debt ceiling outcomes.”

Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall tweeted: “Has there ever been a clearer example of the ‘[Republican Party] has trained us to take their legislative terrorism as a given’ mentality so clear in so much MSM [mainstream media] reporting?”

Post commenters put it so well:

This is a vapid article that begins with a false premise. Biden is not the one who needs to be doing something right now. That’s Congress. Also, none of Biden’s options to resolve the problem unilaterally are “running out.” They all are still available. Click bait that isn’t even good click bait.

Also:

Yes, I am sick and tired of articles that seem to absolve the Republicans of their own idiocy and then blame the Democrats for not protecting us from the harm caused by Republicans.

Both Tankersley and Stein know better. They are both highly competent at times. What pressure are they under to produce such garbage? Which editors is this coming from? It’s a mystery.

And it’s not just them. The notion that this is a problem that both sides needed to solve has been endemic to corporate political reporting for months now.

The Associated Press has consistently been advocating for some sort of compromise — in its news stories. Josh Boak wrote that, “staring down a fast-approaching deadline,” both sides “have to find some version of common ground.”

Washington Post reporter Michael Scherer glibly predicted (in January!) that “Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy, wary opponents, prepare to work together“.

Biden and McCarthy haven’t spoken about the debt ceiling once since then, with Biden continuing to insist on a clean debt-ceiling bill with no strings attached…..

A key distinction that gets conflated in much of the coverage is between raising the debt limit — a procedural issue — and passing a budget. Of course there will have to be negotiations about the next fiscal year’s budget – eventually, once the fractious Republicans have come up with their own proposal, which could be a long time.

If just one major news organization were willing to buck the trend and tell its audience  what is really going on, without the false equivalence, that might be enough. The others might follow.

But it’s not going to happen. Political reporters and editors love brinksmanship. They were fascinated by McCarthy’s months-long attempt to whip his fractious caucus into some sort of agreement, which finally resulted this week in passage of a bill by a 217 to 215 vote….

Journalists hailed it as a “major victory” for McCarthy. The AP’s Kevin Freking quoted McCarthy after the vote, without a rebuttal, saying of Biden “He either has to negotiate now or we’re the only ones that have raised the debt limit.”

All along, reporters have been casting McCarthy as an embattled protagonist, rather than the antagonist. One throughline has been that McCarthy had no choice but to bow to the far-right members of his caucus….

Under the headline “Staring Down a Debt Crisis, McCarthy Toils to Navigate [Republican] Divisions,” Jonathan Swan and Annie Karni wrote sympathetically about how McCarthy is surrounded by people he considers incompetent and “faces his most consequential test: reaching a deal with President Biden to avert a catastrophic default on the nation’s debt as soon as this summer.”

If holding the country hostage is a MAGA priority that McCarthy is only going along with grudgingly, then reporters should make that clear – and stop treating it like it’s normal.

It’s not only awful governance, it may also be unconstitutional, as Jamelle Bouie argued in his New York Times opinion column in January.  The 14th Amendment of the Constitution states that “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned”….

Even the best stories about the [Republican] position understate the extent of the fraud.

Tankersley wrote last week that [their] bill “would only modestly change the nation’s debt trajectory. It also carries a second big objective that has little to do with debt: undercutting President Biden’s climate and clean energy agenda and increasing American production of fossil fuels.”

The lede should have been more direct. Something like: “Much of what McCarthy is now demanding in return for not tanking the economy has nothing to do with debt, it’s doing the bidding of the fossil fuel industry.

I’ll end with what I wrote ten years ago (!) about the egregious press coverage of the then-ongoing shutdown caused by Republicans demanding that President Obama abandon Obamacare:

How can democracy self-correct if the public does not understand where the problem lies? And where will the pressure for change come from if journalists do not hold the responsible parties accountable?

Unquote. From Merriam-Webster:

To extort is literally to wrench something out of someone. Extortion is a mainstay of organized crime. Just as the school bully extorts lunch money from the smaller kids in exchange for not beating them up, thugs extort “protection” money from business owners with threats of violence. But that’s only one kind of extortion; a mobster might extort favors from a politician with threats of revealing some dark secret, just as you might extort a favor from a brother or sister by promising not to tell on them.

Republicans threatening to create a financial crisis in order to force Democrats to meet their demands is also extortion. Journalists should say so.

Something Very Smart About the Stupid Debt Ceiling

Is it mere coincidence that one of the most sensible newspaper columnists working today, Paul Waldman of The Washington Post, almost always expresses opinions I agree with? No, I think not!

Anyway, his column today is so sensible it should be memorized by everybody in Congress and the Biden administration. It deals with the debt ceiling, the idiotic requirement that Congress has to have a new vote whenever the federal government needs to borrow more money to pay for things Congress previously decided to do.

Congress has always acted when called upon to raise the debt limit. Since 1960, Congress has acted 78 separate times to permanently raise, temporarily extend, or revise the definition of the debt limit – 49 times under Republican presidents and 29 times under Democratic presidents [US Treasury].

Congress raised the debt limit three times the last time we had a Republican president (you remember him, the orange one). Now that we have a Democratic president, Republicans are threatening to vote against raising it. That would mean the US government would be unable to make payments it’s legally required to do — for the first time in American history. Nobody knows what would happen then. Almost everybody with a brain thinks it would be a crisis, possibly a disaster, and certainly not something it would be cool to try (unless maybe you think the 2008 financial crisis was worth repeating).

Okay, back to the insightful Paul Waldman:

Even as they try to force a debt ceiling crisis, Republicans insist that they’re the reasonable ones. They just want a fair resolution to this disagreement about whether we should create a needless economic cataclysm by throwing the U.S. government into default. Why won’t the White House negotiate with them?

The White House has flatly rejected the suggestion, saying it simply will not negotiate over whether to default on America’s debts, no ifs, ands or buts. But here’s another idea: If we’re going to have negotiations, let’s make them real. Instead of countering Republicans’ anti-government agenda with a demand to maintain the status quo, Democrats ought to up the ante and insist on their own pro-government agenda.

If you knew nothing about this subject, it might sound like the president is being recalcitrant and Republicans are being sensible. “Let’s sit down together,” says House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “Nobody should be taking the position that we should not negotiate,” says Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.). Even Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) says Democrats “have to negotiate.”

But we’re thinking about “negotiations” all wrong.

The problem begins with the current stance of the two parties. The White House’s position is essentially to maintain the status quo: Congress has appropriated the funds already, and those bills should be paid, which means borrowing the money to cover them. We can argue about how much of the cumulative debt is the responsibility of each party (they’ve both contributed) or how hypocritical Republicans are for pretending to care about debt only when there’s a Democrat in the White House (very). But the administration insists there must be a debt limit increase with no change to current policy.

Republicans, on the other hand, are fantasizing about all the savage cuts they’d like to make to domestic spending, up to and including slashing Social Security and Medicare. So if a negotiation produces a compromise, it would mean more spending cuts than Democrats want but fewer than Republicans seek. Which would still be a victory for the [bad guys].

Instead, Democrats are perfectly free to say the following: With their demand for across-the-board domestic spending reductions, Republicans are in effect proposing cuts to education, health care, economic development, clean energy, infrastructure, enforcement of environmental laws and a great deal more. So here are some of our demands:

  • A significant tax increase on the wealthy
  • An increase in the minimum wage, including indexing it to inflation
  • A national paid family leave program
  • A program to extend the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid to the states that have refused to accept it
  • Universal pre-K
  • A permanent expansion of the child tax credit

That could be just the start. Republicans want to negotiate? Then let’s negotiate! Democrats will be willing to take half a loaf on some of these items; for instance, they might be able to accept only a modest tax increase for the wealthy, or an increase of the minimum wage to only $11 an hour rather than $15. That seems reasonable, doesn’t it?

Think about it this way and it’s clear how odd it is that we’re even calling the GOP demand a negotiation. The choices are (1) give Republicans all of what they want, or (2) give Republicans only some of what they want, with the hope that if the outcome is No. 2, then they’ll be kind enough not to shove the U.S. economy off a cliff.

To be clear, the White House is right that there shouldn’t be any negotiations at all. You don’t negotiate with extortionists, and what Republicans are threatening is economic extortion. It shouldn’t be rewarded.

In fact, the White House ought to go further: The president should announce that in the White House’s view, the debt ceiling violates the 14th Amendment, and because it would be unconstitutional for the United States not to make good on its debts, the Treasury Department will ignore it and continue to pay the government’s bills. If Republicans want to file suit and demand that the Supreme Court allow them to destroy the country’s economy, they’re free to try.

But refraining from destroying the economy shouldn’t be considered a favor Republicans do for Democrats, such that the Democrats have to respond by granting Republicans concessions in return. If they want to have a real negotiation in which both sides get some of what they want, then fine.

That’s the only thing that should be treated as an actual negotiation. Otherwise, Biden should simply take care of the problem in the most expeditious way possible.

Sometimes I Think This Country Is Too Stupid To Survive — Part 3

If you use a credit card to buy $1,000 worth of stuff, you have taken on $1,000 worth of debt. You either have to give the credit card company $1,000 the next time they send you a bill or pay an outrageous amount of interest on what you haven’t paid off.

The federal government is in a similar situation. Since 1970, except for the last four years of the Clinton administration, the federal government has taken on more debt. It’s spent more money than it’s received through taxation, i.e. it’s run a deficit. As a result, the total national debt has increased.

In order to make up the difference, the government has issued bonds, i.e. borrowed money from investors in the bond market (in other words, the government is you and the bond market is the credit card company).

So, in 2020, the last year of the T____ administration, the government spent $6.5 trillion. But the government’s revenue, partly due to tax cuts, was only $3.4 trillion. That means, roughly speaking, the federal government needed to come up with $3.1 trillion dollars to pay its various bills. It was necessary to sell a lot of bonds.

But more than 100 years ago, during World War I, Congress decided that instead of approving the sale of all those bonds, they would set an upper limit on how many bonds the government can sell. That gave the people at the Treasury Department some flexibility. They didn’t have to repeatedly ask Congress for permission to sell more bonds to pay the government’s expenses.

There have been a few changes to the debt limit law since then, but that’s the basic idea. Congress and the president approve a budget. The executive branch then spends a lot of money. When there are too many bills or other obligations to address compared to the taxes collected, the Treasury Department sells bonds to cover the difference, i.e. the deficit. Raising the debt limit doesn’t authorize new spending; it authorizes new borrowing to cover debts the government has already incurred by following the budget Congress and the president approved.

Ordinarily, Congress would simply vote for the debt limit to be increased. But things are not so simple these days. Congressional Republicans don’t believe in governing responsibly. They look for ways to make their Democratic colleagues and the government as a whole look bad. They then claim to be the ones who can fix the problems they’ve done so much to create.

Since the House of Representatives has already addressed the problem by a simple majority vote (218 Democrats voted Yes, 210 Republicans voted No), it’s now up to the Senate to finish the job.

In a more rational world, the 50 Democrats in the Senate could all vote Yes while the 50 Republicans voted No. Vice President Harris could then vote Yes and break the tie. Problem solved (for now).

But the Senate doesn’t have majority rule. It has the filibuster. Sixty votes are needed to do most of the Senate’s business, including raising the debt limit. Without the agreement of at least 10 Republicans, therefore, the 50 Senate Democrats can’t even bring the debt limit increase to a vote.

There are various ways the problem can be addressed before the U.S. government runs out of money and the global markets and the global economy take a dive.

The Treasury Department could mint a special coin and assign it a value of trillions of dollars. Depositing this coin at the Federal Reserve would mean the government suddenly had plenty of money. But it doesn’t look like anybody in authority likes this idea.

The Treasury Department could ignore the debt limit law, citing the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. That amendment says “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law . . . shall not be questioned”, which kind of means the government has to pay its bills. But again, this idea doesn’t have enough support.

A third option, of course, would be for the Republicans to allow the Democrats to proceed to a vote. But the Republicans say they won’t do that.

Instead, they say the Democrats should pursue a fourth option: use the complicated process known as budget reconciliation, which allows a majority in the Senate to pass budget-related legislation. Unfortunately, it’s a very complicated process. In fact, it’s the very complicated process the president and congressional Democrats are (very slowly) using to pass most of Biden’s agenda (the agenda that’s popular with the public but too expensive for two Democratic senators, one who’s actually a moderate Republican and one who’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma). 

Reuters explains what the Democrats would have to do in order to use reconciliation to raise the debt limit:

* The budget committees in the Senate and House of Representatives would have to write legislation enabling the debt limit to be raised. . . 

* The Senate Budget Committee likely would deadlock 11-11 if all 22 members were present, preventing Chairman Bernie Sanders from sending such a bill to the full Senate.

* The Senate’s Majority Leader could then make a move on the Senate floor to “discharge” the stuck legislation from the budget panel. There would be a maximum of four hours of debate and then the Senate would vote on whether to instruct Sanders to release the bill to the floor.

* The Senate could then start debate for a maximum of 20 hours. But it would be open to a potentially large number of amendments in a procedure that is known as a “vote-a-rama.” Amendments would have to be directly related to budgetary matters however. Vote-a-ramas are often all-night affairs.

* Following votes on amendments, the Senate could vote to approve the debt limit bill and could do so with a simple majority of 51 votes.

* The House also would have to go through the process of debating and passing the bill, also by simple majority.

* As all of this is unfolding, global financial markets could become unsettled as Oct. 18 nears and Washington flirts with a default. 

The reason Senate Republicans want the Democrats to use reconciliation for the debt limit is that it would interfere with using reconciliation to pass Biden’s big, popular agenda. That’s the whole reason.

Fortunately, there’s a fifth option. The 50 Senate Democrats could make an exception to the filibuster rule. That’s already been done for budget reconciliation and approving judicial appointments. Why not do it for the debt limit too? It shouldn’t require 10 extra votes in the Senate to allow the government to pay its credit card bills.

But those two Democratic senators (the moderate Republican and the mystery woman who now votes like one) think the filibuster rule is near sacred. They claim it brings the Democratic and Republican senators together in a wonderful spirit of compromise. Maybe it did once upon a time, and once in a while, but all it does now is allow a minority to control the Senate.

So when the Republican Minority Leader says the debt limit problem is for the Democrats to solve, since they control the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate, he might as well be speaking in tongues. The only way Democrats can control the Senate is to eliminate or change the filibuster rule, which so far isn’t happening. (While they’re at it, they should make a filibuster exception for voting rights too — that seems obvious but so far isn’t to all 50 of them).

What Would Boehner Do? A Political Cartoonist’s Answer

The New York Times doesn’t do political cartoons, except the ones on Sunday by Brian McFadden:

{Unfortunately, the link is broken, but you can see the cartoon by going to the address below and then using the arrow on the right until you get to the one for October 6, 2013}

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2012/07/08/opinion/sunday/the-strip.html#1

There’s a long article in the Times today about how the right-wingers have been planning this crisis for months. It might be too depressing to read the whole article, so here’s a brief quote:

A defunding “tool kit” created in early September included talking points for the question, “What happens when you shut down the government and you are blamed for it?” The suggested answer was the one House Republicans give today: “We are simply calling to fund the entire government except for the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare.”

Boehner was on television this morning, trying to explain his position:

“We’re not going to pass a clean debt limit increase,” the Ohio Republican said in a television interview. “I told the president, there’s no way we’re going to pass one. The votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit, and the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us.”

Of course, there are enough votes in the House to open the government and raise the debt limit, which is why Boehner won’t allow a vote to take place. And, of course, Obama had a meeting with Congressional leaders, including Boehner, a few days ago. Senate Democrats have been requesting budget negotiations with House Republicans for months, but the Republicans have refused to meet. What Boehner means when he says “having a conversation” is “giving into our demands”.

Pardon my French, but Boehner is what we used to call at work “a lying sack of shit”.  

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/us/a-federal-budget-crisis-months-in-the-planning.html?ref=politics

http://www.sfgate.com/news/politics/article/Weekend-in-Washington-yields-little-on-shutdown-4873299.php

P.S. – Pittsburgh 5, St. Louis 3. The Pirates now lead the 5-game series 2-1. It might be over tomorrow.

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