Republicans demand transparency from the Treasury on exactly how long the federal government will be able to operate before it defaults in the coming weeks or months.
While Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Monday projected the United States could be unable to pay its debts as soon as June 1, she refused to provide a financial analysis to Congress about how she arrived at that projection.
Some Wall Street forecasters project a true so-called “X-date” of default would likely be June 8 or 9.
Perhaps fearing Yellen might be using “X-date” as a political tactic during budget negotiations, Republicans demanded Yellen provide transparency about the calculation.
“’We’d like to see more transparency’ on how Treasury came up with date,” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise told reporters Tuesday. “[She] ‘implied [the x-date] is June 1 or later’ but appeared to be ‘opening up the door to moving that date back.’”
“I don’t believe June 1st is the real deadline for default. Why aren’t we making @SecYellen show her work before Congress?” Rep. Matt Gaetz tweeted.
I don’t believe June 1st is the real deadline for default. Why aren’t we making @SecYellen show her work before Congress?
She couldn’t even see inflation coming from a mile away! pic.twitter.com/ZwRJjDhHHI
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) May 23, 2023
“What plan does the Treasury Department currently have in place to ensure no government default on U.S. debt occurs, irrespective of a breach of the statutory debt limit?” Rep. Bob Good (R-VA) asked. “How would Treasury prioritize payments in the event of a breach of the statutory debt limit?”
House Financial Services Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC), one of the top House negotiators on raising the debt limit, wrote Yellen in March to request the “current projection of the X-Date, along with how Treasury has arrived at this projection.”
House Republicans received no response from President Joe Biden’s Treasury. Instead, it appeared to blame Biden administration agencies for failing to provide a forecast of agencies’ expenditures.
“To produce an accurate forecast around the debt limit, it’s critical that Treasury have updated information on the magnitude and timing of agency payments,” a spokesperson for Treasury told the Washington Post Tuesday. “As in prior debt limit episodes, Treasury will continue to regularly communicate with all aspects of the federal government on their planned expenditures.”
Meanwhile, negotiations between the Biden administration and House Republicans appear to be at a standstill. Though House Republicans maintain leverage, the Biden administration refuses to cut wasteful spending enacted to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“They want to take everything back,” House Appropriations Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) told Axios. That may be possible, she suggested, in budgets where “we’re done with something, but you’ve got to be discerning, you’ve got to take a look at the whole thing rather than a blanket statement.”
On Monday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Biden administration officials met to discuss the budget. McCarthy commented, “I felt we had a productive discussion. We don’t have an agreement yet.”
“The tone tonight was better than any other time we’ve had discussions,” McCarthy added.
Related: 14th Amendment Can’t Be Appropriately Used to Raise Debt Ceiling
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.
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