Reported by SHELBY TALCOTT | SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT | October 04, 2021
President Joe Biden slammed Republicans for not helping Democrats raise the debt limit on Monday and warned that he can’t promise the country won’t reach the ceiling in a few weeks time.
“Not only are Republicans refusing to do their job, but they’re threatening to use their power to prevent us from doing our job – saving the economy from a catastrophic event. I think, quite frankly, it’s hypocritical, dangerous and disgraceful,” the president said at the White House.
The administration is in the midst of juggling multiple crises – the president’s bipartisan bill and his Build Back Better agenda is stalled amid Democratic infighting, Congress is nearing it’s Oct. 18 deadline to raise the debt ceiling and Panama is warning of another possible influx of migrants heading to the U.S.
Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats should use reconciliation to raise the debt ceiling. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are against this measure, though Schumer at first noted it’s “one option” that’s “on the table.”
“There is no chance, no chance the Republican conference will go out of our way to help Democrats conserve their time and energy so they can resume ramming through partisan socialism as fast as possible,” McConnell previously said.
Biden said that “raising the debt limit is usually a bipartisan undertaking” and said it’s only needed now “in part because of the reckless tax and spending policies under the previous Trump administration.”
“In four years, they incurred nearly $8 trillion – in four years, $8 trillion in additional debt and bills we have to now pay off,” Biden declared. “That’s more than a quarter of the entire debt incurred now outstanding after more than 200 years. And Republicans in Congress raised the debt three times when Donald Trump was president, and each time with Democrats’ support. But now they won’t raise it even though they’re responsible for more than $8 trillion in bills incurred in four years under the previous administration.”
“That’s what we’d be paying off,” he continued. “They won’t raise it even though defaulting on the debt would lead to self-inflicted wound that takes our economy over a cliff and risks jobs and retirement savings, social security benefits, salaries for service members, benefits for veterans and so much more.”
Biden voted against increasing the debt limit in 2006 during former President George W. Bush’s time in office. This vote came amid warnings from that administration that defaulting would negatively affect the economy, The New York Times reported.
“White House officials say Mr. Biden’s vote was symbolic, noting that the ability of Republicans to raise the debt ceiling was never in question,” The Times added.
When pressed by a reporter on the likelihood of reaching the debt limit, Biden issued a warning that he can’t guarantee it won’t happen.
“I can’t believe that will be the end result because the consequence is so dire. I don’t believe it. But can I guarantee it? If I could, I would, but I can’t,” the president said, adding that it’s “up to Mitch McConnell.”
The president noted he had received and read a letter sent by McConnell regarding the debt ceiling. McConnell remained steadfastly opposed to helping with the process and told Biden it’s “time” for him “to engage directly with congressional Democrats on this matter.”
“Your lieutenants in Congress must understand that you do not want your unified Democratic government to sleepwalk toward an avoidable catastrophe when they have had nearly three months’ notice to do their job,” McConnell wrote according to Politico.
McConnell noted Biden’s own past opposing raising the debt limit and declared “your view then is our view now.” Biden told reporters he plans to speak to McConnell regarding the letter.