House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is among Republicans who have floated using the debt ceiling as leverage if the party gains control of part or all of Congress. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who chairs the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, also advocated a “sunset” of all federal programs, including Medicare and Social Security, which would require they be renewed every five years.
Biden took a hard line on the issue on Friday, warning that such a standoff would jeopardize “the full faith and credit of the United States for the first time in our history.” He called the idea of putting rights programs on the chopping block a no-starter.
“Let me be very clear: I will not back down,” Biden said during his comments. “I will not cut Social Security. I won’t cut Medicare no matter how hard they work on it.
Biden is no stranger to standoffs over the debt ceiling, including those involving negotiations over rights reforms. He was with then-President Barack Obama when that White House nearly struck a deal with then-Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) to lift the debt ceiling in exchange of Medicare reforms and changes to Social Security payments alongside modest tax increases. The deal was ultimately scuttled.
Almost a dozen years later, Biden could be faced with a similar set of choices. But he was unwilling to admit on Friday that the Democrats’ midterm prospects were doomed. Instead, he predicted his party would regain momentum in the limited time left before Election Day.
Biden has sought to frame the upcoming midterms as a choice between starkly different economic visions for the country, arguing that Republicans would try to untangle many of his national achievements.
‘If Republicans are successful, the deficit will skyrocket,’ he said, accusing the GOP of prioritizing tax cuts on the wealthy and repealing new limits on prescription drug prices . “The tax burden will fall on the middle class.”
The Republican plan, he added, is “a mega-MAGA trickle down.”
“The kind of policies that have failed the country before and have failed again,” Biden said, expressing optimism about the Democrats’ medium-term chances. “That’s the choice we face. That’s why I think we’re going to do very well.