President Joe Biden said he would discuss the debt limit with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) via telephone from Air Force One as he returns home from Japan after the top Republican accused him of being beholden to “radical socialists” as a potential default looms.
Biden spoke to the media on Sunday from Japan as he prepared to return to the U.S. from the G7 summit. He told reporters he’s “hoping Speaker McCarthy is just waiting to negotiate with me” and suggested invoking the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling. The Biden administration has warned that the U.S. could run out of money as soon as June 1.
“I’ve done my part,” Biden insisted. “Now it’s time for the other side to move from its extreme positions because much of what they’ve proposed is simply, quite frankly, unacceptable.”
“It’s time for Republicans to accept that there’s no bipartisan deal to be made solely, solely on their partisan terms,” he added.
Biden said he told world leaders at the meeting that he could not guarantee that Republicans would not force a default “by doing something outrageous.”
McCarthy lashed out at Biden on Saturday evening on Twitter, claiming the president would prefer a default to disappointing the extreme leftists he says pull the Democrats’ strings.
“President Biden doesn’t think there is a single dollar of savings to be found in the federal government’s budget,” tweeted McCarthy. “He’d rather be the first president in history to default on the debt than to risk upsetting the radical socialists who are calling the shots for Democrats right now.”
President Biden doesn’t think there is a single dollar of savings to be found in the federal government’s budget.
He’d rather be the first president in history to default on the debt than to risk upsetting the radical socialists who are calling the shots for Democrats right now.
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) May 21, 2023
Earlier on Saturday, McCarthy tweeted, “The White House is moving backward in negotiations,” adding, “Unfortunately, the socialist wing of the Democrat Party appears to be in control – especially with President Biden out of the country.”
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.
Last week, both parties indicated that they had made progress on the matter, with a statement from the White House characterizing the discussion as “productive and direct” and remarks from McCarthy saying that it might be possible to get a deal done soon.
A default would likely cause a recession as the federal government, a major borrower of funds that investors across the world broadly consider to be reliable, fails to repay obligations. The national debt, which now surpasses $31.7 trillion, is meanwhile a source of persistent financial risk for the United States and a damper on long-term economic growth. Elevated interest rates on the national debt have recently weighed on the budget as lawmakers are forced to devote more revenues toward servicing the obligations rather than funding programs.
Ben Zeisloft contributed to this report.