There are two separate issues at stake, as he sees it, in President Biden‘s response to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy‘s attempt to paint the Biden administration as an irresponsible fiscal actor.
In his open letter to McCarthy, Biden takes pains to separate and prioritize the issues. First, there is the request that Congress raise the debt ceiling quickly to avoid an “unprecedented default” that would “inflict needless pain on hardworking Americans.”
My letter in response to Speaker McCarthy. pic.twitter.com/veNZtqmEkK— President Biden (@POTUS) March 28, 2023
Biden states that historically Democratic congresses have taken this action during Republican administrations, including during Donald Trump‘s term.
McCarthy’s letter to Biden — the open letter that engendered Biden’s response — called the President “completely missing in action on any meaningful follow-up to this rapidly approaching deadline” and accused him of “refusing to negotiate any meaningful changes to out-of-control government spending alongside an increase of the debt limit.”
Mr. President:— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) March 28, 2023
I’m incredibly concerned you are putting an already fragile economy in jeopardy by insisting upon your extreme position on the debt limit. It’s time to drop partisanship, roll up our sleeves, & find common ground on this urgent challenge. https://t.co/HUbg7DckWU pic.twitter.com/t4zIaZUAqI
McCarthy puts the debt limit and the budget in the same basket. Biden views them as discreet.
Once the debt ceiling is raised, Biden says he “looks forward to talking” with McCarthy about the budget. Biden is in a position where the only thing he can do is look forward to such talks, because McCarthy and the GOP — while criticizing Biden’s proposed budget as reckless — have not offered an alternative budget as a starter toward negotiations.
The conversation has essentially gone like this.
Biden: Here’s my budget.
McCarthy: That’s a bad budget. We don’t like it.
Biden: Okay, understood, so what does your budget look like?
McCarthy: Yours is very bad.
Biden: Yes, I heard you. So what does your budget look like?
McCarthy: It’s a secret.
Biden writes in his letter that he “shared my budget with the American people on March 9, 2023.” He asserts that it contains proposals to cut deficits by nearly $3 trillion in a decade.
Biden also asserts that “tax proposals from the House Republican Conference would exacerbate the debt problem” and add “over $3 trillion in new tax spending skewed to the same constituencies who should be paying more, like multinational corporations and the richest taxpayers.”
[Note: Biden is targeting, among other legislation, McCarthy’s top priority, H.R. 1, a bill that reads, according to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as if it were written by the oil companies.]
Biden writes to McCarthy that “seeing your full set of proposals would be useful before we meet, so we can understand the full, combined impact on the deficit, the economy, and American families.”