Biden advisers urge the GOP to stop threatening to raise the debt ceiling
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A senior congressional Democrat called White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain shortly after last year's midterm elections and inquired as to how the administration intended to stop the new Republican House majority from using the debt ceiling — and the threat of a default that could destroy the economy — to force spending cuts.
The member told Klain that the White House's strategy was clear: Refuse to consider any concessions and launch a torrent of assaults that highlighted the GOP stance in an effort to drive Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to relent.
The congressman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reflect private talks, said, "This fight is simple: We want to do the right thing, and they want to hold the entire American economy hostage to eliminate Social Security and Medicare." Klain informed the congressman that the conflict may have significant political advantages for the Democratic Party. He was making the point loud and clear: You can't bargain with hostage-takers.
However, it is still unclear what the administration would do if Republicans refuse to increase the debt ceiling through direct talks.
The nation's debt ceiling, which places a legislative cap on how much the federal government may borrow, has become a point of contention between House Republicans and the administration. The government has reached its current borrowing limit of $31.4 trillion, according to the Treasury Department, and it is now making intricate financial adjustments to ensure that federal agencies can continue to function and that payments can be paid without taking on further debt. The United States won't default on its debt for the first time if Congress doesn't increase or suspend the debt ceiling at some point this summer, eroding the full confidence and credit of the American government and perhaps triggering a shock to the global economy.
The Biden administration has pledged to safeguard some spending programs, but many Republican senators have stated that they would not support raising the debt ceiling without doing so. This has led to a deadlock with no apparent way out.