Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, chastised federal lawmakers Sunday over the ongoing debt ceiling fight, arguing that Congressional Republicans are threatening to “blow up the economy” if Democrats don’t capitulate to the GOP’s demands.
Debt ceiling negotiations between the White House and top Congressional Republicans broke down over the weekend, with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans saying they will not vote for a budget package that raises the debt ceiling without also cutting federal spending.
The GOP’s proposals include implementing work requirements for Medicaid recipients and reductions in food assistance. Republican officials have also said raising taxes on wealthy Americans, which President Joe Biden and top Democrats have endorsed, is a nonstarter in negotiations over the debt ceiling.
Van Hollen noted Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that Congress had previously raised the debt ceiling multiple times during former President Donald Trump’s term, when Republicans controlled at least one chamber of Congress for all four years.
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“Republicans won’t accept one penny in deficit reduction from closing tax loopholes,” Van Hollen said. “The farce of this whole thing is that under Donald Trump, we raised the debt ceiling three times. Forty percent of our national debt was actually accumulated under Trump, and now they're not willing to talk about any revenue from very wealthy people as part of this effort."
Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, did not dispute that the GOP would not negotiate on raising taxes on the country’s highest earners and argued that the White House and Congressional Democrats should be more accommodating of the spending plan approved by the House last month.
“We certainly weren’t going to put it in the House bill,” Arrington, the chair of the House Budget Committee, said on This Week. “So number one, it’s not on the table for discussion, number two, taxes right now would only be passed onto consumers in higher prices, so we would exacerbate inflation. … The last thing we want to do is add another tax.”
“We are the only chamber, we are the only part of this tri-part negotiation that’s actually done its job,” Arrington added.
Speaking Sunday from the Group of 7 (G7) Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, Biden threatened to utilize his authority in the 14th Amendment to ease the debt ceiling impasse if the two parties can’t reach an agreement.
Biden argued that he believes Section Four of the 14th Amendment grants him the ability to circumvent Congress to address the debt ceiling. The federal government would run out of money to pay its bills by June 1 if federal lawmakers don’t reach an agreement.
“It is time for Republicans to accept that there is no bipartisan deal to be made solely on their partisan terms,” Biden said during a press conference at the G7 Summit. “They have to move as well.”
Van Hollen argued that Republicans who have been unwilling to negotiate are prepared to let the country default on its debt, which he said would launch the country into an economic depression and result in millions of people losing their jobs.
“President Biden is not saying that if he doesn’t get his way on how we reduce the deficit over a period of time that he’s going to blow up the economy,” Van Hollen said. “That’s the difference. Speaker McCarthy and the MAGA Republicans are threatening to blow up the economy if we don’t do things exactly their way.”
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