House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) claimed on Wednesday that House Republicans want to induce a recession amid debt ceiling negotiations with the White House so that former President Donald Trump has better election odds next year.
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. Republicans want to link an increase in the debt limit with spending caps, while Democrats say they prefer separate processes for debt limit negotiations and budget reforms, a debate which occurs even as the government nears default as soon as the first day of June.
Jeffries advanced his theory in a press conference alongside other lawmakers. “They have rejected every single reasonable proposal that the Biden administration has put on the table, which leads many of us to draw the conclusion that at the end of the day, what the House Republicans want is a dangerous default,” he commented. “They want to crash the economy, they want to trigger a job-killing recession, because they believe that it will improve their electoral prospects for the insurrection-in-chief, who is going to be their nominee.”
Democratic officials have indeed contended in recent weeks that Republicans are engaged in brinkmanship as they call for spending reforms in addition to a temporary increase in the debt limit. House Republicans have called for a freeze in spending at fiscal year 2022 levels with 1% annual increases for the next decade along with an increased debt limit.
Jeffries interpreted the move as a desire to either “extract deep, painful cuts that will hurt the health, the safety, or the well-being of everyday Americans,” or otherwise “crash the economy, default on our debt, and trigger a painful recession.”
House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-CT) added in the press conference that Republicans do not “care about spending” since they increased the debt ceiling three times under the Trump administration. “They care what ends up in the pockets of the wealthy and the well-connected,” she continued. “The American people are watching, and they know House Republicans are responsible for this manufactured, very dangerous crisis.”
The accusations occur as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) continues to hold discussions with President Joe Biden over possible compromises on budget reforms. McCarthy asked fellow Republicans to “hang with me on the debt limit” since he and Biden are “nowhere near a deal yet,” while Biden characterized the most recent discussions as “productive” and affirmed that “the only way to move forward is in good faith toward a bipartisan agreement.”
McCarthy has repeatedly noted that Biden waited more than three months to resume debt limit negotiations since the discussions launched in early February, meaning that the current proximity to the possible default deadline was largely avoidable.
Fitch Ratings, considered one of the three most influential credit rating agencies in the nation, announced in an outlook on Wednesday that the AAA rating currently held by the United States could be reconsidered because of “increased political partisanship that is hindering reaching a resolution to raise or suspend the debt limit.” Morningstar, another rating agency, said in a similar outlook that “the prospect of repeated debt ceiling standoffs in a polarized political environment” could induce a determination that the nation is no longer worthy of a AAA rating “even if Congress ends up increasing the debt ceiling” before the first day of June.