US President Biden goes on the offensive against “reckless” Republicans
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden went on the offensive on Monday with a speech attacking Republicans over an imminent threat of US debt default, while pressuring his Democratic Party to enact his stalled multibillion-dollar domestic spending program.
Returning from a rare lazy weekend at his home in Delaware, Biden plunged into the most significant period of his presidency to date.
On the one hand, he faces the Republican determination to cripple his momentum and regain control of Congress in next year’s midterm legislative elections. On the other hand, Biden is grappling with infighting among Democrats over his infrastructure plans and social spending.
With the speech calling on Republicans and a trip to Michigan on Tuesday to promote his domestic spending plans, the 78-year-old political veteran hopes to regain the initiative.
While Biden’s legacy may ultimately depend on the $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure package and a social spending package potentially of $ 2 trillion or more, the entire U.S. and global economy faces the imminent threat of possible default.
Biden on Monday called Republican opponents “reckless and dangerous” for refusing to join Democrats in raising the debt ceiling.
Republican obstruction could push “our economy over a cliff,” Biden said in a White House speech, warning that he could not “guarantee” that a resolution would be found in time.
“If I could, I would,” he said.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warns that starting October 18, the United States will no longer have the funds to honor its obligations to its creditors if Congress does not relax the legal debt ceiling.
Congress has done this dozens of times in the decades since it set borrowing limits, and the votes are generally two-party and without drama.
This year, mirroring the extraordinary acrimony, Republicans are refusing to vote for the ceiling to be raised and say they will even prevent Democrats from passing a simple vote themselves along party lines.
Instead, Senate Republicans are trying to force Democrats to use a complex maneuver called reconciliation to take responsibility for the rising debt on their own. Democrats have so far refused, accusing Republicans of taking the country’s financial situation hostage.
The deadlock means Democrats, who control the Senate with one voice, find themselves bogged down in dealing with the debt crisis while trying to overcome internal differences over Biden’s spending programs.
On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said a debt ceiling lift should be passed “by the end of the week, period.”
“We don’t have the luxury of waiting until October 18, because it is our responsibility to reassure the world that the United States is fulfilling its obligations in a timely manner,” he said.
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Meanwhile, Biden needs all of his experience of nearly four decades in the Senate and eight years as vice president under Barack Obama to try to find a formula that will unite the left and more conservative wings of his party.
His trip Tuesday to a union training center in Howell, Mich., Will seek to highlight the White House argument that big spending plans are popular with voters and that Democrats would commit colossal self-harm if their quarrels resulted in the whole legislative program. collapse.
Moderates in the House and especially in the ultra-tight Senate refuse to accept the progressive wing’s hoped-for price of $ 3.5 trillion in social spending. Progressives reject a $ 1.5 trillion counter-offer.
Biden is now pushing for something in the order of $ 2 trillion.
However, both camps are playing hard, with progressives refusing to support even the $ 1 trillion infrastructure component unless their larger social spending targets are secured first.
On Sunday, Schumer said the goal was “to get both bills settled next month,” adding a new deadline to a tense fall season for Biden’s side.