Biden-McCarthy Debt Ceiling Dance

Following Tuesday’s meeting, President Biden continues to stonewall; meanwhile, Speaker McCarthy is in an excellent position to remain calm and cheerful.

by Newt Gingrich

The Joe Biden- Kevin McCarthy debt ceiling dance entered a new phase Tuesday.

President Biden continued to stonewall and insist on an unamended debt ceiling increase (as I wrote in a previous column, calling Biden’s plan “clean” is totally misleading.

Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin accurately characterized the Biden position as “It’s not rational, it’s not reasonable, it’s not practical.”

To reemphasize how stubborn President Biden was going to be ahead of the meeting Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said “that’s what the President is going to be making clear about. This is not negotiable. Default is not negotiable.”

Apparently, the meeting was a nonstarter with each man repeating his position.

Afterwards, Speaker McCarthy said, “I didn’t see any new movement,” noting that there are only two more weeks until the U.S. faces a potential default.

“Unfortunately, the president has waited 97 days without ever meeting. Every day, I asked ‘Could we meet?’ And he said ‘No.’ The House has raised the debt ceiling in a responsible manner, [to] curve our spending at the same time, bring us economic growth,” McCarthy said. “… I would hope that he would be willing to negotiate for the next two weeks so we could actually solve this problem.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell again reinforced Speaker McCarthy’s central role in his comments after the meeting:

“The solution to this problem lies with two people the president of the United States who can sign a bill and deliver the members of his party to vote for it and the Speaker of the House. There is no sentiment in the senate, certainly not 60 votes for a clean debt ceiling. So there must be an agreement and the sooner the president and the Speaker can reach an agreement the sooner we can solve the problem.”

The strength of the Republican position on the debt ceiling was reinforced by a new briefing from America’s New Majority Project. Overwhelmingly, voters want Biden to compromise. The briefing asserted “Democratic insistence on no spending cuts is a liability in 2024 Congressional elections.”

Consider these highlights:

By 60.7 percent to 26.8 percent, voters agree that House Republicans did their part and now Biden and the Democrats need to come to the table to compromise and negotiate.

By 63.9 percent to 22.9 percent, voters believe Biden’s so-called “clean” debt ceiling increase (which increases the debt limit with no spending cuts) should be called a “dirty” debt ceiling increase, because it will increase inflation and weaken Social Security and Medicare.

Most strikingly, by 62.0 percent to 27.5 percent, voters support spending cuts to get the debt and deficit under control “even if they impact me and my family personally.”

The depth of support for cutting spending to reduce inflation and to get a balanced budget has a clear political implication. America’s New Majority Project found a 14-point advantage for Republican candidates who will only vote for a debt ceiling with spending cuts over a Democratic candidate who will only vote for an unamended debt ceiling (49.1 percent to 35.4 percent with 15.5 percent undecided).

As the America’s New Majority Project report concluded “Americans want government to cut spending and they want Republicans and Democrats to compromise to get things done. Biden and the Democrats find themselves on the wrong side of public opinion on both issues.”

On Friday, President Biden will meet again with congressional leaders. We will see if he and his staff are aware of the depth of public opinion that opposes their position.

If Biden still does not start negotiating, he will be digging a really deep hole for his re-election campaign.

Meanwhile, Speaker McCarthy, who has passed a debt ceiling increase with $4.8 trillion in spending cuts, is in a good position to remain calm and cheerful. Inevitably, the threat of default will move Biden to compromise.

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