McCarthy’s pre-SOTU message to Biden: ‘Time to get to work’ on debt ceiling, spending deal

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Monday called on President Biden to negotiate with Republicans on the debt ceiling, find a compromise that cuts federal spending, and help Congress move toward a balanced budget to ensure the national debt doesn’t threaten future generations of Americans.

‘Mr. President, congressional Republicans are ready to act – to save our country and to make America stronger. I hope you will join us,’ McCarthy said Monday night in a prebuttal to Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.

McCarthy said the excessive federal spending that many economists believe contributed to surging national inflation can no longer be tolerated. And while the White House has said it will not negotiate with Republicans, McCarthy said neither party has any choice but to reach a deal that extends the debt limit as Democrats want, but also meets the GOP goal of paring back federal spending.

‘Defaulting on our debt is not an option,’ McCarthy said. ‘But neither is a future of higher taxes, higher interest rates, and an economy that doesn’t work for working Americans.’

‘A responsible debt limit increase that begins to eliminate wasteful Washington spending and puts us on a path towards a balanced budget is not only the right place to start… It’s the only place to start,’ he said.

McCarthy said the nation watched as Democrats ramped up trillions of dollars in new spending, but asked, ‘does that sound responsible to you?’

‘We must return Washington to a basic truth: debt matters,’ McCarthy said.

‘The choice is clear,’ he said. ‘We can have reckless spending, or we can have responsibility, but we can’t have both. We can leave our children a future with higher inflation, higher interest rates, and crushing debt, or we can leave them free to pursue happiness as God intended.’

He said that on the government’s current spending pace, it will soon be spending $8 trillion a year just to pay the interest on the national debt, more than this year’s entire federal budget. And he all that spending would continue to push inflation higher.

‘Inflation has exploded. Mortgage rates have doubled,’ he said. ‘Working Americans – after inflation and taxes – have gotten a pay cut. And eggs – a staple of America’s breakfast – have gone from a cheap source of protein to a luxury good.’

McCarthy urged Biden not to draw ‘lines in the sand,’ but to negotiate to find ‘sensible, responsible solutions to our growing national debt.’

He said his preference is that both sides meet, just as Biden participated in debt ceiling talks years ago as a senator. He said ‘common ground’ must be found that allows for a ‘responsible’ debt ceiling increase.

‘Finding compromise is exactly how governing in America is supposed to work – and exactly what the American people voted for just three months ago,’ McCarthy said.

And he said a balanced budget must become a shared goal of both parties. ‘Future generations deserve nothing less,’ he said.

The U.S. government reached its borrowing limit last month and is now undertaking ‘extraordinary measures’ to avoid going over the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling. Some agreement will be needed by early June if the U.S. is going to avoid default on its current obligations.

For the last several weeks, the Biden administration has accused Republicans of planning dramatic spending cuts to Social Security and Medicare. On Sunday, Biden tweeted that the GOP will cut those programs as part of their effort to trim spending, and said he ‘won’t stand for that.’

But that message was flagged by Twitter users, who pointed to comments from Republicans that cuts to Social Security and Medicare aren’t being considered. McCarthy, perhaps anticipating that Biden might make that claim again in his State of the Union speech, repeated that line Monday night.

‘Cuts to Medicare and Social Security are off the table,’ McCarthy said.

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