US President Joe Biden accused Republican lawmakers on Wednesday of holding the economy “hostage” by making the suspension of the debt ceiling conditional on approval of significant cuts in public spending.
“They are doing what no political party has done in the history of the nation. They are literally taking the economy hostage,” he said in a speech during a visit to suburban New York.
Biden expressed himself a day after his meeting with House Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy closed without progress on a possible deal to avoid paying off the national debt, which is already over $31.4 trillion. reached on January 19, so the government is currently using its cash reserves to pay off contracted loans.
The Treasury Department estimates these reserves will run out on June 1, at which point the U.S. will automatically default, the first time in its history.
It would be disastrous for the country’s economy, leading to recession and millions of lost jobs, Biden asserted, and it would also be disastrous for the rest of the world.
The White House has so far ruled out negotiating budget cuts to ease the debt ceiling moratorium, with Republicans insisting the country can pay its creditors without accountability and accounts can be discussed later.
In this sense, Biden recalled that the Republicans supported raising the ceiling up to three times under the Donald Trump administration (2017-2021), that administration saw a huge increase in the public debt.
Among the Republican budget demands, the president insisted on major cuts to public programs benefiting middle-class families and veterans, large layoffs of police officers and teachers, or the closing of air traffic control towers. .
Meanwhile, he stressed, Republicans are seeking to extend Trump’s tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy.
According to some analysts, with Biden’s choice of location for the speech, the president was trying to get Republican lawmakers, who represent the typically moderate suburbs north of New York City, to support raising the debt ceiling.
The region, meanwhile, is one that could be important from an electoral perspective: in past elections, Republicans have surprised here with better-than-expected results and picked up several seats, which contributed to giving them control of the House. Representatives in Washington.
They did so, typically, by very tight margins and Democrats are confident they can recapture many of these districts in 2024, when they will look to regain their majority in the lower house.