The answer to that question would appear to be “yes.” The mentally-unstable Argentine President Javier Milei, known for his fits of rage, is desperate to secure Congressional passage of the monstrosity known as the Omnibus bill, which deregulates the economy, imposes vicious austerity and seeks to usurp the powers of Congress. Faced with opposition in the Chamber of Deputies, even from the “friendly” non-Peronist opposition, Milei had to face the awful truth, communicated to him at the end of last week by his sister Karina, that Congress wasn’t going to pass his bill. Karina Milei holds the powerful position of Secretary General of the Presidency and is reportedly the only person her brother trusts.
The unhinged President couldn’t handle the fact that congressmen and governors have to respond to their constituencies. In a Rumplestiltskin fit, he railed against those deputies who dared to oppose his bill, calling them “corrupt parasites,” and accused them of taking bribes and walking around “with suitcases” filled with money. He publicly threatened governors who rejected the imposition of export taxes (on agricultural products in particular), the gutting of pensions or the reimposition of the income tax, that he would “leave them without a penny, and sink all of them.”
Yet Milei’s team had to begin frantic negotiations to modify the bill to try to appease provincial governors while still maintaining its more egregious unconstitutional and authoritarian features. Finance Minister Luis Caputo announced on the evening of Jan. 25 that the “fiscal” portion of the bill had been suspended, while other provisions considered objectionable were either modified or eliminated, reducing the size of the bill by 100 pages. What remains unchanged is the plan to privatize 40 state-sector companies and the imposition of savage austerity to reach a “zero deficit” by the end of this year. “There is no Plan B,” Milei told the Wall Street Journal. The program he has proposed is Argentina’s only option.
As many analysts are warning, the revised bill still allows the executive branch to seize powers which the Constitution grants only to Congress, under “emergency” conditions; and there’s nothing stopping Milei from ramming through by decree those measures that have been eliminated from the bill. A special session of Congress has been called for Jan. 31 to debate and vote on the bill, but whether it will take place remains to be seen, given questions about its support. Milei threatens to hold a plebiscite if a vote fails, but a poll taken Jan. 25-26 by the Zuban-Cordoba firm showed that 60% of those surveyed disagree with Milei’s policies for the country and his threats against governors. Since taking office Dec. 10, Milei’s approval rating has dropped by 10 points.