Biden and McCarthy bump heads on the ceiling

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Biden and McCarthy bump heads on the ceiling

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Perhaps the most calculating and dishonest passage in President Joe Biden’s Feb. 7 State of the Union speech came when he touched on ways to deal with America’s rocketing federal debt.

You may remember it as the point when the House GOP’s most insufferable members, Reps. Lauren Boebert (CO) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), broke into Biden’s lugubrious address by leaping to their feet and denouncing him loudly as a “liar.”

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He had just uttered one of his many distortions and falsehoods by tarring Republicans as intending to scrap Social Security and Medicare. He did so despite Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) having explicitly ruled those two programs out of debt negotiations.

But as deceptive as Biden’s comments about the GOP’s nonexistent machinations were, his most disingenuous words on fiscal matters had come a few sentences earlier when he demanded, “Let us commit here tonight that the full faith and credit of the United States of America will never, ever be questioned.”

This ringing request came from a man who is doing more than anyone before him to cast doubt on America’s ability to pay its debts. In this passage of the speech, Biden was foreshadowing the crisis we have reached as federal spending bumps its head against its legal upper limit. Yet Biden rejects any and all compromise with Republicans to get spending under control. He brought us to this impasse with his profligacy, which has put the federal government on course to break through the ceiling within months.

Biden demands Republicans give him more spending headroom without any concessions from him — indeed, without even a discussion. He refuses to meet McCarthy and demands unilateral Republican disarmament and surrender, then dresses up his intransigence as high principle. He won’t lift a finger except to slough blame on to Republicans who are trying to exercise a modicum of fiscal responsibility.

The Constitution requires the United States to pay its debts, so creditors would get their money even if it meant slashing all other spending, which would be a disaster and would cause utter chaos and a run on the dollar.

Neither side should let America’s credit weaken, but Biden’s spending policies are doing that every day. It shows chutzpah, if nothing else, to add trillions of dollars to the national debt with unnecessary and damaging spending, which stokes inflation and pushes borrowing costs even higher, and then accuse political opponents of undermining the nation’s credit if they refuse to be rolled.

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McCarthy has notched some impressive wins against Biden and the Democrats in the months since his precarious election as speaker. As James Antle’s Washington Examiner magazine cover story this week makes plain, McCarthy has “A Spring in His Step.” But the debt ceiling is a trap set on his path by the president, and the Republican leader is going to need all the neat footwork he can muster to avoid it.

Politics are all about appearances, often at the expense of reality, and Democrats have managed to pin debt ceiling blame again and again on Republicans. McCarthy will be deft indeed if he manages to break the pattern.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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