Biden Renews Call to Raise Debt Ceiling Without ‘Preconditions’

By Lawrence Wilson
Lawrence Wilson
Lawrence Wilson
Lawrence Wilson covers politics for The Epoch Times.
February 8, 2023Updated: February 9, 2023

President Joe Biden renewed his call for House Republicans to raise the nation’s debt ceiling with no insistence on spending cuts during his State of the Union address on Feb. 7.

The president elicited jeers from Republicans during the speech when he suggested that GOP lawmakers intend to “take the economy hostage” in negotiations over the debt ceiling and that some planned to sunset Social Security and Medicare every five years.

About a third of the way through his speech, the president raised the issue of the national debt, pointing out that deficit spending had been cut by $1.7 trillion during his administration, the largest decrease in history.

Biden also stated that no president had increased the national debt more in a single term than his predecessor.

Call for Responsible Increase

While accurate, the statements omit any reference to mandatory increases to entitlement spending during those years or to bipartisan spending in response to COVID-19.

Biden noted that previous Congresses have raised the debt limit with no preconditions and asked the 118th Congress to do the same.

“Let us commit here tonight that the full faith and credit of the United States of America will never, ever be questioned,” the president said.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on Feb. 6 that he favored a “responsible” increase in the nation’s debt ceiling, now at $31.4 trillion, but wouldn’t consider any increase without some reduction in what he calls runaway federal spending.

Perhaps the most dramatic moment of the evening came when the president suggested that some Republicans want to make Social Security and Medicare sunset every five years, which would require Congress to reauthorize the programs.

McCarthy, seated behind the president, shook his head vigorously while other House members jeered.

Biden then engaged the critics, inviting them to contact his office for a copy of the plan he referred to, one of which was authored by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) that has been dismissed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Tax the Rich

The Republican Study Committee also put forward a plan in 2022 that would make some changes to Social Security.

McCarthy has repeatedly said that changes to Social Security and Medicare are “off the table” in discussions about the debt ceiling and that he wouldn’t allow the government to default on its obligations.

The president’s plan for reducing deficit spending by $2 trillion relies on increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

“I will not raise taxes on anyone making under $400,000 a year. And I will pay for the ideas I’ve talked about tonight by making the wealthy and big corporations begin to pay their fair share,” he said.

Biden’s plan won’t cut Social Security benefits and will extend the Medicare Trust Fund by at least 20 years, he said.

The president will release his budget proposal on March 9 and has called on Republicans to make their spending plans public.

Biden and McCarthy met on Feb. 1 to begin talks on the debt ceiling.