UNITED STATES NEWS

Biden goes after Republicans on debt limit in campaign-style speech

May 10, 2023, 2:15 AM | Updated: 4:24 pm

VALHALLA, N.Y. (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday blasted Republican-demanded spending cuts as “devastating,” making his case in a campaign-style speech to voters as lawmakers met in Washington on raising the government’s borrowing limit to avoid a potentially catastrophic U.S. default.

The president is showing an increased willingness to discuss possible budget restraints, yet he insisted anew that any talks on that should occur without the risk of the federal government being unable to pay its bills. As he spoke, negotiators from the White House and Congress met for two hours privately at the Capitol to discuss a path forward.

“America is the strongest economy in the world, but we should be cutting spending and lowering the deficit without a needless crisis,” Biden said Wednesday.

His words were a challenge to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who met Tuesday with Biden at the White House, declaring afterward that sharp spending cuts were required for House Republicans to increase the debt limit and stave off the risk of default.

Biden laid into that GOP proposal on Wednesday in Valhalla, New York, saying spending cuts recently passed by the Republican House could hurt schools and the country’s “sacred” obligations to military veterans.

The faceoff comes as the government is rapidly bumping up against its legal borrowing authority, meaning that it may not be able to pay its bills as early as the start of next month unless lawmakers agree to lift the limit. Negotiations between the White House and Congress are expected to resume Thursday.

Wednesday’s events marked a preview of what the coming 18 months will look like for Biden as he performs his presidential duties while also trying to campaign in the 2024 election. He went to a region represented by first-term Republican Rep. Mike Lawler, whose district Biden won in 2020. Yet the president was gracious to the congressman, saying that Lawler is “the kind of Republican I was used to dealing with.”

Biden used the trip to trumpet recent economic progress — pointing to the 12.7 million jobs created during his term and a fresh focus on domestic manufacturing — while warning that an unprecedented debt default would threaten millions of jobs and raise the prospect of a recession. Yet GOP lawmakers blame his coronavirus relief spending for the high inflation that has many voters already worrying about the U.S. economy.

Back in Washington, senior White House officials and congressional aides were starting to discuss a path to avert a painful debt default that could come as soon as June 1. Negotiators are racing to strike a budget deal that could unlock a vote on separate debt ceiling legislation. Biden and Capitol Hill leaders are to meet again on Friday.

But McCarthy has shown few signs that he and other House Republicans were willing to budge from their debt limit proposal, leaving Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to warn the speaker is being “reckless.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who has stepped aside as McCarthy tries to negotiate with the White House, has assured, “America is not going to default.”

McConnell has said that the past several times the debt ceiling has been raised, Congress has attached priorities that were agreed to with the White House, including a deal negotiated between then-President Donald Trump and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“There has to be an agreement between the speaker and the president — and there will be,” McConnell said.

In his remarks Tuesday, Biden raised the specter of cuts to veterans’ care, an issue that has become particularly sensitive in the back-and-forth rhetoric between the White House and congressional Republicans. When the president suggested during the meeting on Tuesday that the House GOP plan could end up cutting benefits to veterans, McCarthy told reporters that he shot back that was a “lie.” But Biden disputed that it was a lie, saying that the across-the-board cuts would affect veterans’ care and other vital domestic programs.

The president has countered the GOP plan with his own budget proposal, which could save $800 billion through changes to government programs. Of that sum, Biden said that $200 billion over 10 years would come from expanding Medicare’s ability to negotiate on prescription drug prices. He said by contrast that the House Republican bill could jeopardize medical care for U.S. families, while his deficit savings would lower costs.

“Would you rather cut Big Pharma or cut health care for Americans?” Biden asked. “These are real world choices.”

After his speech, Biden told reporters he was still holding out hope for a long term debt limit increase. He said he hadn’t been briefed yet on what lawmakers were discussing on the budget. But when he meets with them on Friday, he said he wants specifics of what spending cuts Republicans hope to make. “What are they going to cut?” he asked.

Biden is also scheduled to spend a week abroad on a trip to Japan, Australia and Papua New Guinea later this month. He said postponing his travel is “possible but not likely.”

With debt talks showing minimal progress, the White House hopes that Biden’s public outreach — starting in a congressional district that will be key for Democrats seeking to wrest House control back from Republicans next year — increases pressure on GOP lawmakers who can’t afford politically to alienate moderate voters.

Rep. Lawler, as one of 18 House Republicans hailing from a congressional district won by Biden, is a prime target for the White House.

Still, Lawler accepted the invitation from the White House, “maybe to their surprise,” the lawmaker said in an interview Tuesday. He said it was a “little disappointing” that Biden was spending his time traveling to his district rather than negotiating with other leaders in Washington.

“He told me he wasn’t here to put any pressure on me,” Lawler told reporters after the president spoke. “Look, I showed up because I believe very strongly that we all have an obligation to work together.”

House Republicans, in their debt measure that passed in April, are aiming for $4.5 trillion in deficit savings through cuts in spending, eliminating tax breaks for investing in clean energy, and undoing the Biden administration’s proposal that would forgive student loan debt. The White House has made it clear that Biden would veto that legislation.

Democrats, who control the Senate by 51-49, are calling for a “clean” debt limit hike without any conditions such as spending cuts, but any such measure would require the support of at least nine Republican senators, and most of them say they will oppose doing so.

While in New York on Wednesday, Biden, who formalized his reelection campaign on April 25, also held a pair of fundraisers.

The president told donors at the Manhattan home of Nitzia and George Logothetis, the executive chairman of the privately held international conglomerate Libra Group, that “freedom is at stake” in next year’s election. Biden was joined by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for a separate fundraiser hosted by Amabel and Hamilton “Tony” James, a former executive at the private equity firm Blackstone.

___

AP Writer Josh Boak reported from Washington. AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro and White House Correspondent Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

United States News

Associated Press

Ford recalls over 550,000 pickup trucks because transmissions can suddenly downshift to 1st gear

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is recalling more than 550,000 pickup trucks in the U.S. because the transmissions can unexpectedly downshift to first gear no matter how fast the trucks are going. The recall covers certain F-150 pickups from the 2014 model year. Ford’s F-Series pickups are the top-selling vehicles in the U.S. Ford says in […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Wildfire prompts evacuation orders for rural community in northern California

PALERMO, Calif. (AP) — Authorities in rural northern California have ordered evacuations due to a fast-moving fire threatening the community of Palermo, which is near where the state’s deadliest wildfire struck six years ago. The fire covered about 1 square mile (2.6 square kilometers) in the initial hours Monday after the flames were first reported, […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Former pro surfer known for riding huge Pipeline waves dies in shark attack while surfing off Oahu

A well-known Hawaii lifeguard who was killed in a shark attack while surfing off Oahu’s North Shore was a former professional surfer with acting credits to his name, including a role in one of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. Tamayo Perry, 49, was killed Sunday near Goat Island, Shayne Enright of the Honolulu Emergency […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

More rain possible in deluged Midwest as flooding kills 2, causes water to surge around dam

NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D. (AP) — More storms are possible in parts of the deluged Midwest, where flooding after days of heavy rains has killed at least two people, sent a river surging around a dam and forced evacuations and rescues. Severe storms were forecast for Tuesday afternoon and evening with large hail, damaging winds […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Lawsuit challenges new Louisiana law requiring classrooms to display the Ten Commandments

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Civil liberties groups filed a lawsuit Monday to block Louisiana’s new law that requires the Ten Commandments to be displayed in every public school classroom, a measure they contend is unconstitutional. Plaintiffs in the suit include parents of Louisiana public school children with various religious backgrounds, who are represented by […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

A look at Julian Assange and how the long-jailed WikiLeaks founder is now on the verge of freedom

WASHINGTON (AP) — News that the U.S. Justice Department has reached a plea deal that will lead to freedom for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange brings a stunning culmination to a long-running saga of international intrigue that spanned multiple continents. Its central character is a quixotic internet publisher with a profound disdain for government secrets. A […]

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Biden goes after Republicans on debt limit in campaign-style speech