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Daily Wire Editor Emeritus Ben Shapiro contended that the recent debt ceiling agreement between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) occurs in the context of both Democrats and Republicans spending far beyond the nation’s means.
The debt ceiling, a statute established by Congress that prevents the government from spending beyond a predetermined national debt limit of $31.4 trillion, exceeded the threshold earlier this year, provoking concerns that the nation will default on loans within the next week at the earliest. McCarthy and Biden reached a deal which, among other measures, suspends the debt limit until 2025, caps spending growth for the next two years in areas except for defense and veterans, and expands food stamp work requirements for those between 49 and 54 years old.
Republican members of the House from both the more moderate and conservative factions, including Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), have expressed severe reservations about the agreement, contending that the deal will normalize higher spending established through pandemic relief measures. Republican leaders, on the other hand, celebrated the deal and said the agreement marks a landmark victory for the conference.
Shapiro commented on social media that any spending reform which does not significantly amend the welfare system is ultimately inconsequential. “I agree with every single critique of the shortcomings of the debt limit deal,” he remarked. “In a rational world, we wouldn’t just be fighting over discretionary spending, we’d be restructuring entitlements.”
The bestselling author and podcast host added that the agreement is a failure “compared to the ideal,” characterizing the compromise between Biden and McCarthy as “a giant bag of failure mixed with a heaping helping of bankruptcy.” He said that in comparison to the proposed debt ceiling increase with no spending reforms, however, the deal could be considered a “success.”
Shapiro also noted that many conservatives are “more agitated over McCarthy’s deal than they were with the fact that with Trump as president and full control of Congress, Republicans increased spending.” He contended that “every fiscal debate is basically about where to place the deck chairs on the Titanic” unless entitlement spending is addressed.
“Politicians all know this. But they’re incentivized to play kabuki theater over all the rest of the spending so as to avoid the third rail of American politics,” he said. “They kick the can down the road. The iceberg is right there, but they’re screaming about where the chairs should go.”
Social Security, Medicare, and other health initiatives constituted 46% of the federal budget during the last fiscal year, according to data from the Treasury Department. In order to balance the budget while exempting defense, veteran benefits, Social Security, and Medicare from cuts, all other federal spending would have to be reduced by 85%, according to an analysis from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
Biden and McCarthy each started the debt limit negotiations with a commitment to refrain from considering reforms to entitlements. Social Security, as Shapiro observed, has long been considered the third rail of American politics: the vast majority of survey respondents have historically said they want benefits from the program retained, even as nearly half are concerned about continued funding for the program, according to an analysis from Gallup.