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Biden warns Republicans will ‘crush the economy’ as they pledge to use debt limit to force through spending cuts

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President Biden warned Friday that if Republicans capture a majority in Congress in next month’s midterm elections, they will “crush the economy” by withholding the debt ceiling to secure spending cuts while targeting the two main entitlement programs: Medicare and Social Security.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who could become president if the GOP wins the House, suggested this week that his party would be willing to use an increase in the debt ceiling as leverage to force policy changes. McCarthy has not ruled out including Medicare and Social Security in the calculation as Republicans seek to cut government spending.

Those comments — along with McCarthy signaling that House Republicans would resist more aid for Ukraine — gave Biden new issues to cite to argue that voters should support the Democrats mid-term, with a just over two weeks before polling day.

“If you’re worried about the economy, you should know that this Republican leadership in Congress has made it clear that they will crash the economy next year by threatening the faith and credit of the United States,” he said. he said Friday from the White House. . “For the first time in our history, put the United States in default unless we give in to their demand to cut Social Security, Medicare.”

The debt limit is the total amount of money the government is allowed to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including social security and health insurance benefits, among other priorities. It will have to be lifted next year to protect the country’s credit rating and prevent the United States from defaulting on its debt.

“Let me be very clear,” Biden added. “I will not give in. I will not cut Social Security. I won’t cut Medicare no matter how hard they work. And folks, we know what the Republican Congress will do if it gets back into power. They tell us to be upfront about it.

The president made the remarks as he welcomed news that the US government’s annual deficit had risen from $2.8 trillion in 2021 to around $1.4 trillion in 2022, touting it as “the largest decline over a year in American history”.

Biden has sought to contrast his economic handling with that of Republicans, warning that promised tax cuts and other policy changes could push the deficit back up.

“It’s a mega-MAGA-runoff,” Biden said, “the kind of policies that have failed the country before and will fail again.”

McCarthy had indicated that Republicans would use the debt ceiling increase in negotiations with the Biden administration.

“You can’t just continue down the path to keep spending and increasing debt,” he told Punchbowl News in a recent interview. “And if people want to make a debt ceiling [for a longer period of time]like with anything else, there comes a time when, okay, we’ll provide you with more money, but you have to change your current behavior.

“We’re not just going to keep increasing your credit card limit, are we?” added the lawmaker. “And we should seriously sit down together and [figure out] where can some waste be disposed of? Where can we make the economy stronger? »

McCarthy said he wouldn’t “predetermine” anything when pressed on whether changes to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security were part of the debt ceiling talks. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has previously suggested that Social Security and Medicare be eliminated as federal programs of law. And Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has proposed “pausing” all federal programs after five years, meaning they would expire unless renewed.

In his comments on Friday, Biden also predicted voter sentiment would shift toward the Democrats in the final days before next month’s midterm elections and said he thought his party was “doing very well.” go out”.

His remarks to reporters at the White House come as recent polls have shown a more favorable environment for congressional Republicans than a few weeks ago, with more voters saying economic issues are key to their choices.

“Here’s what I think: It’s back and forth,” Biden said. “Polls have been everywhere. I think we’re gonna see one more change on our side [in] closing days.

He suggested that several “good news stories about the economy” would resonate with voters, including lower gas prices, falling unemployment rates and a record shrinking US government deficit.

“The new deficit numbers, there’s a record, a record decrease,” Biden said. “It has never happened before. The election is not a referendum. It’s a choice. It’s a choice. And Republicans criticized my economic record. But look what I inherited and what I did, and look what they gave away.

“That’s the choice we face,” he added. “That’s why I think we’re going to do very well.”

washingtonpost

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