". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Debt Talks Ping-Pong back to Washington as GOP Warns of ‘Financial Armageddon’

May 22, 2023

Even people paying close attention to the debt ceiling drama would’ve had a hard time keeping up with the weekend’s on-again, off-again headlines. In the handful of days since Joe Biden left for Japan, the see-saw messaging was a show of extremes. One minute, the two sides are trading barbs; the next, they’re making progress. All Americans really seem to know for sure is a) the June 1 deadline isn’t flexible; b) the GOP is the only party with a plan; and c) far-Left Democrats don’t like it — and they’re willing to default on our loans to prove it.

The roller coaster negotiations were on full display on social media, where an exasperated House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) implied that Biden had gotten cold feet before his trip to Japan. “President Biden doesn’t think there is a single dollar of savings to be found in the federal government’s budget,” the top Republican bristled. “He’d rather be the first president in history to default on the debt than to risk upsetting the radical socialists who are calling the shots for Democrats right now.”

Biden, meanwhile, accepts no responsibility for the predicament. “I’ve done my part,” the president said in a news conference at the G-7 Summit. “It’s time for the other side to move their team positions, because much of what they … proposed is simply, quite frankly, unacceptable.”

Fox News’s Peter Doocy was incredulous in his follow-up, asking if the country did default, would he really be “blameless?” “On the merits,” Biden replied, “… I would be blameless. On the politics of it, no one would be blameless.” Then, in a familiar line of attack, the president pointed his finger at conservatives. “I think there are some MAGA Republicans in the House who know the damage that it would do to the economy, and because I am president — and presidents are responsible for everything, Biden would take the blame. And that’s one way to make sure Biden’s not re-elected.”

The reality is, as several Democrats have pointed out, Biden’s party had ample time to raise the debt ceiling without any strings attached. They had control of the House, Senate, and White House and simply didn’t do it. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said that was one of his biggest regrets, that they didn’t seize the moment to act alone. “If I could do one thing different,” he bemoaned, it would have been a lame-duck debt ceiling hike. “And I was saying it at the time: ‘Hey, we got the votes.’”

Now, the idea of working with Republicans toward a bipartisan solution is infuriating. “Why are we negotiating?” an angry Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) said. “It’s just very frustrating that we have backed ourselves into this corner.”

This “corner,” as Bowman puts it, is the very real possibility of cutting government spending — an idea that the overwhelming majority of Americans support. In an AP/NORC poll released Friday, a whopping 63% agree with Republicans that raising the debt ceiling should be conditioned on lower spending. Only 19% agree with the Democrats’ position that the nation keep borrowing without changing the behavior that got us here.

“Now, [we] have $32 trillion on the credit card,” Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) pointed out in a testy interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd, “and all House Republicans are saying is, let’s go back to pre-pandemic spending. That’s commonsense stuff.”

Or it should be, Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) said on Friday’s “Washington Watch.” Never one to mince words, the Texan warned, “There’s a financial day of Armageddon approaching — and whether it’s going to be tomorrow or a week, or in five years or 10 — it’s going to happen. If we don’t correct the error of our ways, we cannot continually spend — really continuously spend — more than we take in. A state government can’t do it. … [S]chool districts, cities, counties [they can’t do it]. And me personally. [I can’t do it.] But somehow the federal government can?”

While the rest of the country waits in suspense to see if America can avoid disaster, Fallon insists the president’s party could care less. “… Democrats are perfectly fine [walking away from the table], because … they ha[ve] no realistic or reasonable plans to balance the budget ever. They just want to keep spending, because they’re … pandering for votes so they can win the next election. And it’s very unfortunate. But this issue has got to be addressed, and it’s got to be addressed now, because we have China looming. And they would like nothing more than for the international community to trade in the yuan and not in the dollar.”

That didn’t stop House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) from calling it “a GOP-manufactured crisis” that’s holding “everyday Americans hostage to unreasonable ransom demands.” But even “everyday Americans” are forced to live within a budget, Republicans fired back. “Listen,” Fallon said, “Hakeem Jeffries is highly intelligent — and he’s also very dangerous, because he is an effective demagogue.” But the Left’s playbook hasn’t changed much, Fallon pointed out. “Remember, [former Speaker] Paul Ryan had a plan to balance the budget, and [Democrats] had these TV ads where they were pushing grandma off a cliff.”

“This is one of those inconvenient truths, to borrow an Al Gore phrase,” he went on. “We are spending $400 billion a year right now on the interest on the debt — $400 billion with a ‘b.’ Think of the things that could be done with that money. We were running some cocktail napkin math in our office last week. We think that every 18- to 22-year-old could go to a state college [with] tuition paid for free in the entire country for $400 billion. And we’re throwing it essentially in a furnace. And the Democrats are perfectly fine with continuing to do that until that number reaches — what — a trillion? This has got to be addressed.”

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.