Feb 1, 2023
McCarthy Heads to White House With Debt Ideas, But No Proposal
(Bloomberg) -- House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he has “a lot of ideas” he plans to share with President Joe Biden during a Wednesday meeting on how to avert a market-rattling payments default, but congressional Republicans don’t yet have a firm proposal to offer the administration.
After huddling behind closed doors with House Republicans, McCarthy told reporters he wants to deal with the debt ceiling in an “adult way” and called on Democrats to avoid political games.
“I’m going to sit down with the president and see if he doesn’t want to play politics and if he wants to start negotiating,” McCarthy said. “Let’s sit down and start negotiating where we come together for the American people to put us on a better path.”
Republicans want to use threat of a default to extract spending cuts from Democrats, a strategy that Democrats have opposed. Biden, meanwhile, has said he’ll seek revenues as part of any deal, something difficult or even impossible for McCarthy to agree to.
Biden’s strategy so far is to wait and see what Republicans propose. The president at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in New York on Tuesday called McCarthy a “decent man,” but said he had made concessions to the right wing of his party that were “off the wall” to secure the speakership.
Oklahoma Republican Frank Lucas said the meeting reflected party divides on the debt ceiling and no final plan is near being agreed on.
“That’s a work in progress,” Lucas said. “People are figuring out that being in the majority is a challenge.”
While McCarthy may not have a plan, he will go into the meeting “with more specifics that he’s not going to negotiate in the press,” Budget Chairman Jodey Arrington said on Wednesday.
“The first objective was we got our Democratic colleagues to the table about responsibility raising the debt limit,” Arrington said.
Republican Roger Williams, Small Business Committee chairman and a former car dealer, defended Republicans for not entering into the meeting with Biden with a more concrete plan
“In my business, if you want to buy a car, I can’t force you to buy a car,” Williams said. “I need to know what you’ll pay for the price. That’s what we need to do over there.”
Georgia Republican Austin Scott said not having a fixed set of demands bodes well for the talks because the GOP is being flexible in finding a solution.
“We just want policies that reduce spending and boost economic growth,” Scott said. He said there will be no proposal on Medicare and Social Security.
But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer blasted McCarthy for going to the White House without a plan, likening it to showing up to a card game with no cards.
“House Republicans, show us your plan. You have an obligation to be transparent with the American people,” Schumer said.
There’s some time left — the Treasury says it won’t breach the ceiling before June, while outside experts expect the so-called X-date to come roughly in the summer.
--With assistance from Emily Wilkins.
(Updates starting in fourth paragraph)
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.