On Monday, President Joe Biden slammed Republicans for obstructing attempts to prevent the financial disaster that would be caused by a U.S. debt default, calling their interference “disgraceful.” For weeks, Republicans have been insistent on causing a default by refusing to raise the debt ceiling.
“Let’s be clear. 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,” said Biden. “Their obstruction and irresponsibility knows absolutely no bounds, especially as we’re clawing our way out of this pandemic.”
Pointing out that Republican senators have been threatening to use the filibuster to block the debt ceiling raise, he urged GOP lawmakers to “get out of the way” if they want Democrats to fix the problem themselves. Yet Republicans are willfully obstructing nearly every path that Democrats could take to raise the debt ceiling with Democratic votes alone.
Biden pointed out that it isn’t about his current agenda, but about paying off existing debts. “Raising the debt limit comes down to paying what we already owe,” he said. “It starts with a simple truth: the United States is a nation that has paid its bills and always has.”
The president continued to say that previous debt limit raises have been a bipartisan effort because both parties recognized the importance of the U.S. paying its debts. “The reason we have to raise the debt limit is in part because of the reckless tax and spending policies under the previous [Donald] Trump administration. In four years, they incurred nearly $8 trillion — in four years, $8 trillion in additional debt,” he said. “That’s more than a quarter of the entire debt incurred now outstanding after more than 200 years.”
Over the course of Trump’s presidency, Republicans voted to raise the debt limit three times. Now, the U.S. faces a crisis if the debt limit isn’t raised before the U.S. runs out of money to pay for its obligations, which Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says could come in just two weeks. Every day until the debt limit is raised, the so-called “X date” — the day the U.S. could default — grows closer.
Economists warn that if Congress remains in deadlock and the U.S. defaults on its debts, the resulting economic downturn could be catastrophic, similar to that of the Great Recession in 2008. According to analysis by Moody’s Analytics, six million jobs could be lost and American families could have $15 trillion of their collective wealth yanked out from under them.
The longer Republicans block Democrats from raising the debt ceiling leading up to a default, the more unstable the economy gets, Biden pointed out. Last week, investors began preparing for the possibility of a default, resulting in a market plunge.
“As soon as this week, your savings and your pocketbook could be directly impacted by this Republican stunt,” the president said. “Republicans say they will not do their part to avoid this needless calamity. So be it. But they need to stop playing Russian roulette with the U.S. economy.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has only doubled down on his party’s debt limit obstruction in recent days, even as the economy roils due to the possibility of a debt default.
In a bizarre letter to Biden on Monday, he requested that the president ask Democrats to avoid a debt default. The minority leader continues to pin the blame on Democrats — even though he could change his mind about obstructing raising the debt limit at any time, preventing what could become a dire economic crisis.