POTUS Previews Debt Ceiling Standoff with Republicans

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AP Photo/Susan Walsh

President Joe Biden on Friday laid out the contours of what he sees as a forthcoming debt ceiling standoff with congressional Republicans: A battle over spending cuts that Republicans seek and tax hikes that Democrats want.

Biden delivered remarks before mayors from across the country in the East Room of the White House before fielding several questions from local executives. Tishaura Jones, a Democrat mayor from St. Louis, Missouri, asked how mayors across the country can help “sure up national security” and bring “more high-quality jobs to America’s cities,” but Biden responded by speaking about the national debt and a looming battle between Democrats and Republicans on the matter, considering the United States hit the debt ceiling on Thursday.

He first asserted that his administration cut $350 billion from the deficit in 2021 and claimed he had cut it by over a trillion in 2022.

However, the Washington Post has labeled this rhetoric a “shell game” and “unwarranted bragging” as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted the debt to fall $360 billion in 2021 and decline again in 2022 due to the end of emergency spending fo the pandemic. Ironically, the CBO predicted the debt to fall by $875 billion in 2021, but the administration’s spending led the CBO to revise the number to $360 billion.

As the  $31.3 trillion national debt ceiling has been reached, lawmakers are tasked with cutting funding to get below the number or raising the ceiling again.

“Now the big debate … and I’m going to talk about it in State of the Union, is the fundamental disagreement on… what do we cut, well it not just cutting. What do you raise, what taxes do people pay, how do they pay their taxes, and do they pay it fairly?” he said.

Biden suggested, “There’s a lot of things we can do,” but only identified a tax increase on billionaires or social security cuts as potential solutions:

There’s 745 or 750 billionaires in America. [The] average tax rate they pay is two percent. I think you should be able to be a billionaire, but I think you should pay little more than two percent…. I’m not trying to be alarming about it but, I mean, its a reality. Now the argument is – there’s a lot of arguments why that shouldn’t be because they generate so much energy and so much growth, etc.

There’s a lot things we can do. Now the option that’s going to be offered, you’re going to see, is they want to a way to deal with cutting that debt is to cut social security, cut medicaid. We got to do something about social security and medicaid… But these are the kinds of debates we are going to have, and they’re going to be honest debates.

Former President Donald Trump vehemently warned Republican lawmakers not to vote for any cuts to medicare or social security in order to “help pay for Joe Biden’s reckless spending spree.” Instead, Trump proposed cutting “hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars going to corrupt foreign countries,” cutting “the mass releases of illegal aliens that are depleting our social safety net and destroying our country,” ending radical gender programs in the military and nixing reckless funding on “climate change extremism,” to get below the debt ceiling.

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“Cut waste, fraud, and abuse everywhere that we can find it, and there’s plenty of it, but do not cut the benefits our seniors worked for and paid for their entire lives. Save social security, don’t destroy it,” he cautioned.

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