President Biden criticized House Republicans on Monday for their refusal to hike the debt limit without securing spending cuts, arguing that it took 200 years to accumulate the national debt under both parties.
Mr. Biden said that extreme “MAGA Republicans” devoted to former President Donald Trump had hijacked the GOP and were bringing the nation dangerously close to a fiscal cliff.
“They’re putting our economy in jeopardy by threatening to refuse to pay America’s bills that took 200 years to accumulate by the way,” the president said during an event in Fridley, Minnesota. “Not this year, last year, [but] 200 years.”
Mr. Biden said that if House Republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling, the cap on how much the government could borrow to pay expenses, the country would be thrown into a recession.
“It would be a disaster for the economy, internationally,” said Mr. Biden. “Basically we know so far their plans would explode the deficit.”
House GOP lawmakers have urged Mr. Biden to begin negotiations on raising the debt limit. Although short on details, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said that Republicans would accept a deal if Mr. Biden agreed to four broad concessions.
Topping the list is clawing back $90.5 billion in unspent COVID-19 funds and expanding work requirements for federal entitlement programs. GOP lawmakers further want to reduce domestic spending to pre-coronavirus levels and limit future growth.
Outside of spending reductions, House Republicans say Mr. Biden must agree to sign legislation lowering energy costs, addressing crime, and enhancing border security.
“I have no interest in brinkmanship — only in doing what is best for the American people,” Mr. McCarthy wrote in a recent letter asking Mr. Biden to start debt limit talks.
The White House has dismissed the offer, saying that GOP lawmakers have yet to be transparent about which federal programs they want to cut.
“If they want to have a conversation about our nation’s economic and fiscal future, it’s time for them to put out a budget — as the president has done with his detailed plan to grow the economy, lower costs, and reduce the deficit by nearly $3 trillion,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
The U.S. government has continuously had a fluctuating national debt since its formation in 1776. It was only during a short two-year period under President Andrew Jackson between 1835-1836 that the national debt was ever paid off.
Since 1900, every president except for two has added to the national debt. Former President Barack Obama added more than $8.3 trillion during his two terms in office.
Mr. Trump nearly hit that same mark between 2017 and 2021 thanks to an explosion in public spending because of the coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Biden, meanwhile, has added roughly $1.84 trillion since taking office.