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Debt Ceiling Negotiations Break Down
Biden has run off to Japan, but his aides are continuing the process on his behalf, and it's not going well.
House Republicans actually passed a Debt Ceiling bill last month, called the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023, but it was considered DOA in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Biden vowed it would never pass and initially swore that he would never meet with McCarthy to negotiate a Debt Ceiling bill. He has since caved and met with the House Speaker, as well as other congressional leaders.
The big sticking point seems to be the GOP’s desire to make some changes to the work requirements for all able-bodied adults without dependents for SNAP and TANF, as well as adding a work requirement for Medicaid. While the President had previously said that he did not want any of the changes, he signaled on Wednesday (May 17) that he would “not accept any work requirement changes that would affect recipients' health needs,” but he may be open to other changes.
Other points of contention include a cap on future spending and growth of federal spending by just 1% each year, clawing back unspent Covid funds, streamlining the permitting process for infrastructure projects, and cuts to the President’s Inflation Reduction Act.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has been warning that the United States is facing an “economic catastrophe” if we don’t get the debt ceiling increase passed by June 1. The White House Council of Economic Advisors is backing her up with their predictions of Doom and Gloom. They claim that if the country defaults, we’d see a recession that would make the Great Recession seem like child’s play, and that if we didn’t get this resolved quickly, the stock market would tank by 45%, and the economy would shrink by 6%.
President Biden is so worried about the debt ceiling issue that he handed the reins of the negotiations to three of his aides and left town on Wednesday to play with the G7 in Japan. Don’t worry, though; he decided to cut the trip short and come home early. Biden’s chosen crew consists of Office of Management and Budget director Shalanda Young, Office of Legislative Affairs chief Louisa Terrell, and top Biden adviser Steve Ricchetti.
Ricchetti has his fingerprints on that letter from the 50+ intell people declaring the Hunter Laptop was Russian disinformation. Terrell was a childhood friend of Beau Biden, and has been a fixture in Joe Biden’s office for decades. She also did a brief stint as a lobbyist for Facebook, and helped clear the path for the Tech giant to acquire Instagram. OMB director Shalanda Young has repeatedly lied about Republicans, claiming they want to cut Social Security. These are the people President Joe Biden put in charge of negotiating the debt ceiling increase on his behalf.
Leader McCarthy has appointed Rep Garrett Graves (R-LA) to negotiate on behalf of the Republicans. Rep Graves was a congressional aide before winning his seat in Congress, and is well-known in DC as a “policy wonk.” He seems to be a solid guy with a deep knowledge of how the system works. Graves has a tough job, trying to negotiate with Democrats, but keep the Five Families in the GOP happy.
The Senate seems unbothered about all this debt ceiling stuff, and Leader Chuck Schumer announced on Thursday (May 18) that he is sending everyone home for a 10-day Memorial vacay. Senators will not return to DC until May 30, two days before the June 1 deadline. Meanwhile, several conservative Representatives want a border bill shoe-horned into the negotiations because of the mess at the border caused by the ending of Title 42. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jefferies (D-NY) has prepared a legislative trick called a Discharge Petition, designed to force their version of a debt ceiling bill through to the floor of the house. He has been joined by 210 House Democrats. Throughout all of this chaos, McCarthy seems confident he'll have the House voting on a new bill next week; however, many Democrats, including Senators Tina Smith (Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are telling Biden NOT to compromise and pushing him to test the 14th amendment as a way to circumvent Congress.
Friday (May 19) afternoon, Republicans walked out of the negotiations.
“Until people are willing to have reasonable conversations about how you can actually move forward and do the right thing, then we’re not gonna sit here and talk to ourselves. We decided to press pause because it’s just not productive,” Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., told reporters.
Graves said he did not know if talks would resume this weekend.
Lorraine Yuriar is a wife, mother, and lifelong conservative, currently stuck in a very blue state.