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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy turned up the heat on President Biden to ‘sit down and negotiate’ on the debt ceiling on the eve before the president will deliver his State of the Union Address.
‘We will continue to sit down and negotiate – just as President Biden did in the past,’ McCarthy said, after noting the president helped negotiate a debt limit raise as vice president in 2011 with House Republicans.
Biden and McCarthy had their first sit-down last week where they agreed to keep the line of dialogue open but came to no solid plan forward. Biden insists Congress must pass a clean debt limit raise, McCarthy says his caucus won’t raise the limit without spending cuts.
‘Surely we both agree that the national debt is too high. Surely we both agree that inflation hurts American families. Surely we can trim waste and streamline programs to make them both stronger and more efficient,’ the Republican speaker said.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy turned up the heat on President Biden to ‘sit down and negotiate’ on the debt ceiling on the eve before the president will deliver his State of the Union Address
Biden is set to deliver his State of the Union address tomorrow
He added: ‘A responsible debt limit increase that begins to eliminate wasteful Washington spending and puts us on a path towards a balanced budget is not only the right place to start… It’s the only place to start.’
In response to McCarthy’s remarks, the White House noted that Republicans have so far refused to lay out their priorities for spending cuts.
‘House Republicans’ only plan is to make the deficit skyrocket by over $3 trillion with unaffordable tax giveaways to wealthy special interests. They’ve even proposed raiding Medicare so that the ultra-rich can enjoy new tax welfare,’ White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement.
‘Meanwhile, House Republicans are threatening to actively throw our economy into a tailspin with a default – which they have a non-negotiable, Constitutional duty to prevent – unless they can further cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It’s utterly backwards.’
The U.S. reached its $31.4 trillion borrowing limit weeks ago, forcing the Treasury to take ‘extraordinary actions’ to stretch dollars until June.
House Republicans have been in a stalemate with the White House and Senate Democrats amid urgent warnings from the Treasury that action needs to be taken to raise the debt ceiling.
Failure to do so could send the U.S. careening into default – plunging the global economy into a tailspin.
While Democrats are underscoring the urgency of raising the debt limit to avoid the calamity of a default, McCarthy tried to put the debt to scale.
‘We are now 31 trillion dollars in debt. That is more than the size of the entire American economy – 20 percent more. Our debt is now a greater burden than it has been at any time since World War II,’ he said.
‘If we continue down this path, in the next ten years, we will spend over 8 trillion dollars just on interest,’ the Speaker added. ‘That’s more than the entire federal budget this year. By a lot.’
McCarthy then pinned high prices on the nation’s debt – claiming inflation had turned eggs into a ‘luxury good.’
‘When debt is too high, inflation is the result,’ he said. ‘Eggs – a staple of America’s breakfast – have gone from a cheap source of protein to a luxury good.’
Meanwhile leaders of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus said on Sunday that they’re working on a ‘failsafe option’ for the U.S. debt limit, in case talks between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden fall through.
‘I think it’s irresponsible not to have the conversation, just like it’s irresponsible to default on our responsibilities as a country and put the full faith and credit of the United States at risk,’ New Jersey Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.
Co-head of the caucus, GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, said: ‘We cannot allow our country to default under any circumstances.’
Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (right) and Josh Gottheimer (left) are the bipartisan co-chairs of the House of Representatives’ Problem Solvers Caucus
The House’s GOP majority has made clear that it will not move to raise the debt limit unless it was offset with future government spending cuts.
And while they hope a solution can be reached after McCarthy left a meeting at the White House on a seeming high note last week, Fitzpatrick and Gottheimer are also prepared to step in with a plan if the two parties can’t agree on adequate cuts to pass a debt limit deal.
‘Our hope, of course, is that leadership and the White House are able to work something out,’ the Democrat said.
His Republican colleague echoed, ‘We’re going to let them do their work. We don’t want to undermine anybody.’
‘But what Josh and our group do together is, we don’t negotiate in public. We work everything out,’ Fitzpatrick said.
‘We have a failsafe option in the backdrop that will be ready to go to make sure that we get this job done.’
The limit is the total amount of monetary debt the federal government is allowed to carry, with which it pays military salaries, social security benefits, and other programs that affect millions of people.
Fitzpatrick claimed that current regulation which sees the debt ceiling regularly raised – and increasingly argued over – by specific monetary amounts ‘doesn’t make any sense.’
He suggested instead that it be converted to a ‘debt-to-GDP ratio.’
They said they’d stand behind House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (pictured) in making a deal with the White House to avert a default
But President Joe Biden has until now maintained that he will not negotiate on spending cuts regarding the debt limit, calling raising the ceiling an ‘obligation’
‘A number that could be agreed to, have a cure period thereafter,’ Fitzpatrick explained.
‘And if that cure does not occur, certain guardrails go up on discretionary spending.’
He explained that the U.S. currently has ‘a debt-to-GDP ratio that exceeds 100 percent.’
‘That’s occurred two times in our nation’s history, World War II and now,’ Fitzpatrick said.
‘And that threatens the valuation of our currency and risks our competitiveness with China, and we see how big of a threat that is. So, that’s the solution that I would like to advance.’
Ahead of his meeting with McCarthy, Biden maintained that raising the debt ceiling cannot be a point of negotiation because it’s an ‘obligation’ of the U.S. government to do so.
But the Republican leader told reporters afterwards that talks would continue.
‘The president and I had a first good meeting – I shared my perspective with him, he shared his,’ McCarthy said outside of the White House.
He said there were ‘no agreements, no promises, except that we would continue this conversation.’
The White House called their meeting ‘frank and straightforward.’