Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
President Joe Biden and Republicans remain far apart on agreeing to a solution to the nation’s approaching debt ceiling crisis, but the two sides agreed to continue talking following a high-level meeting at the White House Tuesday.
That Republicans and Democrats are now at least on speaking terms is a major step toward resolving the debt-ceiling issue prior to the nation defaulting on its debts, potentially as early as June 1.
Biden, who has previously refused to negotiate with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on a way forward, continued to thaw on his position as he met with leaders from both parties and both Congressional chambers to the White House.
In attendance were McCarthy, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
“I just finished, I thought, a productive meeting with the congressional leadership about the path forward to make sure America does not default — I emphasize does not default on its debt for the first time in history,” Biden said in a statement.
He added, “We [agreed] to continue our discussions, and we’re going to meet again on Friday. In the meantime, our staffs — we’re going to meet today and daily between now and then. And everyone in the meeting understood the risk of default.”
THE EFFECTS OF DEFAULT
The president is by any reasonable measure correct about the severity of a default. Were the nation to not pay its debts, the effect on the economy could be catastrophic. Biden pointed to a Moody’s prediction that as many as 8 million Americans could lose their jobs, and it’s commonly held that rampant inflation would also follow.
Republicans have agreed that the situation is dire, but have refused to budge on raising the $31.4 trillion national debt ceiling without sincere spending cuts by Biden and the Democrats.
“Just finished meeting at the White House,” McCarthy tweeted after exiting the meeting. “My position is clear and reasonable—House Republicans have done their job to avoid a default and responsibly raise the debt limit. Democrats must now do the same.”
Just finished meeting at the White House. My position is clear and reasonable—House Republicans have done their job to avoid a default and responsibly raise the debt limit. Democrats must now do the same. https://t.co/Gi5bOxT4GH
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) May 9, 2023
McCarthy added in a subsequent tweet, “Our national debt crisis is too important to play politics. That’s why House Republicans voted to avoid default and responsibly raise the debt limit. Our founders designed our government for negotiation. So let’s get this done.”
BIDEN REFUSING TO NEGOTIATE
But, getting the job done will be far from easy. Biden continues to treat the idea of negotiating with Republicans as a non-starter. His desire is that Republicans vote to raise the debt ceiling first and haggle over spending later.
“I told congressional leaders that I’m prepared to begin a separate discussion about my budget and spending priorities, but not under the threat of default,” Biden said.
But McConnell, who previously signed onto a letter with more than 40 fellow Senate Republicans vowing to block any debt ceiling measure that came without spending reform, indicated that negotiation was the only way forward.
“There’s no reason why our country should be drifting towards crisis,” McConnell tweeted. “The solution is clear: a bipartisan deal between @POTUS and @SpeakerMcCarthy. Just like how seven of the last ten debt limit increases were attached to bipartisan spending deals. It’s up to @POTUS to now negotiate.”
There’s no reason why our country should be drifting towards crisis. The solution is clear: a bipartisan deal between @POTUS and @SpeakerMcCarthy. Just like how seven of the last ten debt limit increases were attached to bipartisan spending deals. It’s up to @POTUS to now…
— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) May 9, 2023
McConnell’s words carry some weight. As a leading voice in the Senate, particularly among moderates and legacy Republicans, he has the ability to swing votes and eliminate the filibuster in the upper chamber.
And, according to Biden, McConnell has made assurances that the nation would not default on its debts.
“And I’m pleased but not surprised to hear [the] Republican Minority Leader of the United States Senate saying that — at our meeting that the United States is not going to default,” Biden said. “It never has, and it never will. And he’s absolutely correct.”
However, if McConnell holds firm that his support is contingent upon good-faith negotiations between Biden and McCarthy, Republicans might be able to force the left’s hand in both the legislative and executive branches.