Generous to a Default? Dems Cling to Big Spending as Debt Talks Sputter
After a fruitless meeting Tuesday, the debt ceiling negotiations that were set to resume at the White House Friday have been postponed, a Biden official confirmed. With the date of a June 1 default date looming large, the delay puts leaders in an even tighter time crunch to resolve the biggest crisis outside the southern border. Thanks to conflicting schedules, the days are dwindling for both sides to wheel and deal — a high-stakes situation that Republicans insist the country should have never been in. “We’ve done our part,” Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) insisted on “Washington Watch.” “… [W]e need [the president] to come to the table in good faith.”
Instead of having constructive conversations, Joe Biden decided to spend Wednesday in New York, spreading lies about what the House bill would do. Among other things, he falsely claimed that the GOP’s legislation would slash $22 million in veterans’ health care — an accusation that Johnson insisted Biden just “literally made up out of thin air.” To his credit, the Louisiana congressman explained, “[Speaker] Kevin McCarthy called the president on it in the Oval Office in [their] meeting, and he said, ‘Mr. President, that is a lie. Show me the language in the bill.’ Of course, it doesn’t exist. And of course, the president himself hasn’t seen the bill. He’s reading some talking point that somebody handed him. It’s absurd.”
The fact that the White House is spinning falsehoods about the proposal isn’t exactly a surprise to Republicans. “They’re engaging in fear-mongering, because they refuse to engage in any responsible discussion about their spending habits for … decades. … And in the last few years, they’ve been writing checks that even our grandchildren can never pay. … [W]e’re digging a hole so deep they’ll never be able to get out of it,” Johnson warned.
To young people, these days, he warns, “‘You cannot take for granted that you will have the same freedom, opportunity, [and] security that your parents and grandparents had, because it’s not going to be there unless the people in charge of Washington right now change their habits.’ That’s what this is about.”
Meanwhile, Biden officials insist that the delay is a positive thing, telling NBC News that “meetings are progressing. Staff is continuing to meet, and it wasn’t the right moment to bring it back to principals,” they claimed. When they do sit down, those principals — McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) — will all have to overcome the same obstacle: a president who refuses to budge.
His bullheadedness is ridiculous considering his record, Johnson fumes. “You have to remember, of course, that President Biden himself used to lead these negotiations. I mean, [in] 2009 and 2011, he led the debt limit negotiations with House Republicans. He was a senator then, of course, and he called negotiations a ‘normal process.’ He said you have to have compromise. He said you can’t go in with a ‘my way or the highway’ approach. But of course, that’s exactly what he’s projecting right now. So it’s terribly hypocritical. But more important than that, it’s dangerous. This is a very dangerous game that he has played. The president has to negotiate with us.”
To “Washington Watch” host and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, it’s even more mind-boggling since Republicans have “put something solid onto the table.” “It’s not like this is a theoretical discussion,” he pointed out.
Exactly, Johnson agreed. “We have done our part. And we’re committed to a sensible debt ceiling solution. But we have to, at the same time, put some guardrails on this reckless Washington spending. It’s the spending, of course, that has caused this record-high inflation that’s [led to] the rising interest rates and supply chain shortages and all the instability in the banking system. All the pain that hardworking families are feeling right now is because of the spending choices. And so we have to use this as leverage to [change] that trajectory, because it is not a sustainable one for the American people.”
Under the House plan, the federal government would return to 2022 spending levels (which are still obscene), with the option to raise that cap 1% every year. Together with clawing back the unspent COVID dollars, stripping the IRS of its army of 87,000 new agents, and rolling back more of the omnibus’s woke projects, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the bill would blow an impressive $4.8 trillion dollar hole in our national deficit — all without touching the Left’s sacred entitlement programs.
At the end of the day, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) told National Review’s Rich Lowry (in very colorful terms) that the president and his party can’t budget without Republicans. “They know that if they go down that road with this 14th Amendment argument, we will blow crap up. I’m serious — it will be just open warfare in terms of what we’re going to deal with on the spending front if these SOBs try to go down this completely … unconstitutional and stupid road.”
As far as defying Congress goes, Roy says, “I think, hopefully, there’s a point at which even this president and these leftists around him will … find a way not to be that radical.”
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.