A leading Treasury Department official refuses to admit President Joe Biden waited until the threat of a historic default became imminent to negotiate the debt ceiling.
CNN anchor Dan Bash pressed Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo about the issue on Sunday, weeks ahead of what could be an unprecedented government default.
“If the threat from default is so dire, why did the president wait until this month to have real negotiations about how to and where to have spending cuts in order to avert default?” Bash asked.
Adeyemo dismissed the premise of the question.
He argued that Biden “didn’t wait” because he proposed a budget in March to reduce the debt by nearly $3 trillion over the next decade. Republicans passed their own plan in the following month, Adeyemo noted, and Biden then invited congressional leaders to discuss “fiscal policy.”
“If the threat from default is so dire, why did the president wait until this month to have real negotiations?”
Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo: “The president didn’t wait” 🤔 pic.twitter.com/yC61sIUtPt
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Congressional leaders met with Biden at the White House last week but failed to come up with an agreement. A planned second meeting on Friday was postponed, but Adeyemo contended the conversations were “constructive” and stated that Biden has “made clear” he does not think invoking the 14th Amendment to get around Congress would “solve our problems now.”
Biden and Democrats in Congress are advocating for a “clean” bill to raise the debt ceiling above the current limit of roughly $31.4 trillion, a stance which set them up for a clash with Republicans who want to discuss concessions on spending cuts after the GOP-led House passed their proposal in April.
“It’s clear that the only responsible way to raise the debt ceiling is to limit reckless spending and get inflation under control,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) tweeted on Friday.
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As talks continue, “There is no reason we shouldn’t raise the debt limit and prevent default in this country, a default that could lead to a massive recession that would cost us millions of jobs,” Adeyemo said.
Time is running short as the Congressional Budget Office warned there is “significant risk” that the government would no longer be able to pay all of its debts at some point during the first two weeks of June if the debt limit remains unchanged despite “extraordinary measures” being taken by the Treasury Department.
“The president’s view is that we should be able to raise the debt limit and also be able to get a deal with regard to fiscal policy,” Adeyemo said on Sunday, sticking with the view that avoiding a default should be handled as a stand-alone issue.
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