Biden, McCarthy Point Fingers as Debt Limit Catastrophe Looms Closer
President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are blaming each other for the current partisan impasse as the clock ticks down to the deadline to raise the United States debt limit and avert an economic crisis.
The Democratic president and Republican speaker had a call on Sunday while Biden was returning to the U.S. from the G7 Summit in Japan, according to McCarthy who also said on Twitter that they will meet on Monday to resume talks in person. The open dialogue between the leaders is a positive turn from a day earlier when McCarthy said negotiations were “moving backward.”
The White House and the Republican-led House of Representatives have been locked in a stalemate for weeks over negotiations to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. Biden is seeking an increase in the amount of debt the U.S. is allowed to carry to fund his party’s preferred programs as well as military spending, which includes aid to Ukraine. McCarthy wants to see broad spending cuts across the government in an effort to reduce the national deficit. If Democrats and Republicans fail to reach a deal by the June 1 deadline, it could result in the U.S. defaulting on its estimated $31.4 trillion debt, meaning the government will not have the ability to borrow more money to pay bills. It would be the first time in U.S. history that the county defaulted on its debt, which would have dire consequences for the national and global economy.
While Republicans are calling for an increase in military spending, veterans care and border security, they’re demanding steep cuts to other programs. Biden said that the GOP bill to avoid a default would result in 21 million people losing Medicaid in addition to cutting 100,000 teachers and 30,000 law enforcement officers.
Newsweek reached out via email to representatives for Biden and McCarthy.
After his Sunday call with Biden, McCarthy told reporters there was no deal, saying they’re “still apart” on reaching an agreement. However, the Republican sounded more hopeful than he did following talks on Friday and Saturday.
“What I’m looking at are where our differences are and how could we solve those, and I felt that part was productive,” he told reporters while leaving the Capitol on Sunday.
McCarthy also posted about his call with the president to his Twitter account on Sunday afternoon.
“Just got off the phone with the president while he’s out of the country,” the California Republican said. “My position has not changed. Washington cannot continue to spend money we do not have at the expense of children and grandchildren. Tomorrow, he and I will meet in person to continue negotiations.”
Later on Sunday, McCarthy assailed Biden on Twitter, where the speaker shared a video clip of him questioning what it would take for the president to identify places the government is wasting money, saying “every household does that, and we should do it too.”
“I literally asked the president: What is the number,” McCarthy said. “How much debt must America have before you say, ‘let’s stop borrowing from China?'”
Earlier on Sunday, Biden used his press conference at the G7 to slam Republicans over their “extreme positions” as lawmakers work to hammer out a deal.
“Now it’s time for the other side to move from their extreme positions. Much of what they’ve already proposed is simply, quite frankly, unacceptable,” Biden told reporters. “And so, let me be clear. I’m not going to agree to a deal, for example, that $30 billion tax break for the oil industry, which made $200 billion last year. They don’t need an incentive of another $30 billion.”
He also wouldn’t sign off on a deal that protects “wealthy tax cheats and crypto traders” while putting food assistance at risk for nearly one million Americans, Biden said, adding that Republicans need to accept there is no bipartisan deal to be made based “solely on their partisan terms.”
When asked if anyone would blame him for the default, Biden said the GOP can use the catastrophe a default would cause to diminish his chances of winning re-election in 2024.
“I think there are some MAGA Republicans in the house who know the damage it would do to the economy, and because I’m president, and the president is responsible for everything, Biden will take the blame and that’s the only way to ensure that Biden is not re-elected.”
Biden also lashed out at GOP lawmakers on social media, echoing his calls for conservatives to back off their “extreme” ideas in a Sunday evening Twitter post.
“So much of what Congressional Republicans have proposed during budget negotiations is simply unacceptable,” Biden said on Twitter. “It’s time for them to move off their extreme position and act to avoid default.”
However, despite both parties being locked in a standoff, Biden said all four congressional leaders agree with him that “default is not an option.”
“America has never defaulted — never defaulted on our debt, and it never will,” Biden said.
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