Kevin McCarthy and Joe Biden to Meet to Discuss Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Ceiling Increase
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden are set to meet Wednesday at the White House to discuss the Republican House majority's views on federal government spending and raising the country's borrowing limit. McCarthy has insisted that cuts to Social Security and Medicare are “totally off the table,” and the House GOP agenda includes calls to strengthen the programs.
McCarthy and House Republicans are hoping to leverage the need to raise the debt ceiling in order to negotiate concessions from Democrats on spending cuts, while Senate Democrats have called for a “clean” raising of the debt ceiling, without any policy strings or funding cuts attached.
It’s uncertain what kind of legislation addressing the debt limit would win enough GOP support to clear the lower chamber, and also pass the Democratic-led Senate and win Mr. Biden's support. McCarthy has indicated he would not take up a debt ceiling increase without “commensurate fiscal reforms” or a budget agreement, and his party is discussing a potential short-term suspension of the debt ceiling to buy more time for debt ceiling negotiations.
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has repeated claims that defaulting on the national debt “would cause widespread damage to the U.S. economy” and cost millions of jobs. For his part, McCarthy has compared government spending to an American family’s budget, saying, “Every family does this. What is – what has happened with the debt limit is you reached your credit card limit. Should we just continue to raise the limit? Or should we look at what we're spending?”
Negotiations in 2011 over raising the debt ceiling and cutting spending resulted in the enactment of the “Budget Control Act of 2011,” which imposed austere spending caps on discretionary spending for the next decade in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. In the current political landscape, the responsibility lies with McCarthy to find a solution that satisfies both parties and avoids a catastrophic payments default.
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1. “Biden's message to McCarthy ahead of critical White House meeting: Show me your plan” CNN, 30 Jan. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/30/politics/white-house-debt-ceiling-kevin-mccarthy/index.html
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