There is ample precedent for President Joe Biden to convene with congressional Republicans and find a middle ground on the debt ceiling, but the president is doubling down on his refusal to negotiate.
The last debt ceiling crisis came when Biden was vice president, and at that point, Barack Obama agreed to cut $1 from the budget for every $1 dollar increase in the debt limit.
But despite the last-minute agreement between the former president and the GOP, there were dramatic market upheavals and lasting costs incurred by the federal government. In other words, avoiding a crisis showdown is preferable.
That, however, is not the route the White House has in mind. It is glaringly obvious that Biden and his advisers believe there are political points to be scored by creating a crisis and blaming Republicans for the fallout.
"When Joe Biden was VP…he was the lead negotiator on negotiations for spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. You’re saying you think it’s different [now]?"
Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin says it's different because Republicans control the House. pic.twitter.com/MuVmLFke6Y
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) January 22, 2023
The Washington Post reported White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain has a straightforward plan for the showdown. Flatly refuse to make concessions and attack the GOP’s position to the point where House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) gives in.
An anonymous Democratic member of Congress said their party will paint Republicans as wanting to “take the entire American economy hostage to cut Social Security and Medicare.”
The lawmaker added that Klain believed that “you can’t negotiate with people who take hostages,” and the results will have political benefits for Democrats.
Scoring points for the White House is not an attractive stand for Biden to take. The spiraling debt crisis must be addressed, and the ritual raising of the debt ceiling without offsetting cuts in spending does nothing to improve the nation’s balance sheet.
True, there have been numerous debt ceiling increases. However, the push for this jump comes immediately on the heels of Congress passing a particularly wasteful omnibus spending bill that simply heaped more debt on top of the current administration’s spending spree of the past two years.
The administration argues that the latest increase covers money already spent by the government. But when is enough enough?
When will Congress step up and say no more to mortgaging the nation’s future to buy votes today?
The Biden administration apparently feels it can score a political victory by digging in its heels and painting Republicans as villains. But the American people clearly see who is attempting to be fiscally responsible, and a meeting at the bargaining table is the only sensible approach to take.