House Speaker Kevin McCarthy addressed the nation to rally public support for a “responsible” increase in the nation’s debt ceiling while cutting federal spending.
McCarthy described the national debt as the greatest threat to the country’s future, eclipsing inflation, illegal immigration, and China’s “infiltration” of our culture in his 10-minute speech aired live on Feb. 6.
At the same time, McCarthy assured Americans that there would be no default on the nation’s financial obligations and no threat to Social Security or Medicare.
He then made a case for attacking what he called runaway federal spending through spending cuts and called President Joe Biden to join in the effort.
Operating on a Deficit
The government has consistently operated on a deficit budget for over 50 years, making it necessary to borrow continually to pay the nation’s bills.
The debt ceiling is the total amount of debt the government is authorized by Congress to hold at one time. It is currently at $31.4 trillion.
When that ceiling is reached, either Congress must raise the limit, or the federal government will begin to default on some of its obligations.
The United States would have reached the debt ceiling in January if not for “extraordinary measures” taken by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to postpone a default until June.
McCarthy laid the blame for the nation’s fast-rising debt on congressional Democrats, who he said increased the debt by 30 percent in four years through runaway spending.
In fact, the national debt has risen at a rapid rate since 1982, doubling approximately every seven years under the leadership of both parties.
McCarthy likened the situation to being the parent of a teenager who has run up a large credit card debt. A responsible parent would pay the debt but also admonish the teenager to behave responsibly, McCarthy said, which is what the Republican House intends to do regarding congressional spending.
“The runaway spending of the last few years it’s over. Now, we must return Washington to a basic truth: Debt matters.”
The speaker said the debt crisis creates an opportunity for bipartisan cooperation in dealing with the nation’s finances.
“Debt limit debates have been used for nearly every successful attempt to reform federal spending and living history. Why? Because the problem only gets solved when both parties come to the table.”
McCarthy and President Joe Biden met on Feb. 1 to begin discussions on raising the debt ceiling. Prior to that meeting, Biden had pressed McCarthy to reveal the Republican plan for cutting spending.
So far, Republicans have only hinted at the approach they will take.
In his address, McCarthy identified his priorities for further negotiations, asking the president to join him in pursuing them.
First, McCarthy said he would continue to enter into negotiations; second, commit to finding common ground on raising the debt ceiling in a responsible way; and third, move the nation toward a balanced budget.
Biden stated on Feb. 2 that his first meeting with McCarthy was a good one and that he believed they could work together.
“While we have had profound differences the last two years, we have proven we can come together and do big things for the country. We can join hands and get things done, we can redeem the soul of America.”