Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warned in a March 28 letter that there could be “dire ramifications” for “the entire nation” if President Joe Biden refuses to negotiate with Republicans on the debt ceiling.
Biden has taken a hard line on the debt ceiling since Republicans took the House, suggesting that he will not allow Republicans to use the issue to force compromises. Republicans, on the other hand, hope to use the issue to force Biden to give concessions and reduce federal spending.
Two months ago, at the start of the 118th Congress, Biden nevertheless indicated a willingness to meet with McCarthy to discuss the dispute. This public willingness to talk, McCarthy said, has not translated to negotiations between the two leaders.
“Since that time, however, you and your team have been completely missing in action on any meaningful follow-up to this rapidly approaching deadline,” McCarthy said in his letter to the president.
By Biden’s refusal to meet with him, the speaker said, “[Y]ou are putting an already fragile economy in jeopardy by insisting upon your extreme position of refusing to negotiate any meaningful changes to out-of-control government spending alongside an increase of the debt limit.”
Since taking office, Biden has signed off on trillions in spending, including the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the $745 billion Inflation Reduction Act and, most recently, a $1.7 trillion omnibus package rushed through Congress at the end of the last Congress.
Republicans have long blamed this spending for the rise in consumer prices, and have said since the 117th Congress that cutting spending would be a top priority for the party if they took the House.
McCarthy told Biden that if he continues to refuse to negotiate, any debt ceiling crisis would be his fault.
“Your position—if maintained—could prevent America from meeting its obligations and hold dire ramifications for the entire nation,” McCarthy wrote.
‘No Interest in Brinksmanship’
McCarthy added to the president that he had “no interest” in playing political brinksmanship with the debt ceiling.
By Joseph Lord