Ahead of debt ceiling negotiations at the White House Wednesday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy received a memo from Biden administration officials.
The memo, sent to “interested parties” by Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young and Economic Council Director Brian Deese, details the demands President Joe Biden plans to present to McCarthy during their meeting.
“Will the Speaker commit to the bedrock principle that the United States will never default on its financial obligations, as Leaders Schumer, McConnell, and Jeffries have already done – and does he agree with former presidents, including Presidents Trump and Reagan, that it is critical to avoid debt limit brinksmanship?” the first demand states.
To his credit, McCarthy responded thus:
Mr. President: I received your staff’s memo.
I’m not interested in political games.
I’m coming to negotiate for the American people.
However, he concluded:
President Biden: I accept your invitation to sit down and discuss a responsible debt ceiling increase to address irresponsible government spending.
I look forward to our meeting.
I would maintain that there is no such damn thing as a responsible debt ceiling increase. And let’s be honest, no significant spending cuts – or even decreases in the rate of increase – will be on the table, from either side. And there can be no fiscal sanity in the Imperial City without discussing entitlement spending; indeed, without cutting entitlement spending.
As of 2020, the most recent year for which we have solid numbers, entitlement spending was almost half the budget; 21% for Social Security, 25% for Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace health insurance subsidies. “Economic security programs” – that is, welfare – comprises another 11% of Imperial spending.
Oh, and 7% goes to servicing the debt. Not reducing the debt; just paying the interest, on Imperial debt that has been ever-increasing for decades now. The debt was rising through most of the post-WW2 period. Barack Obama stomped on the gas, and Donald Trump kept his foot on the accelerator. President Biden(‘s handlers) have very little idea what’s going on, but they sure know how to keep that spending throttle slammed to the floor.
Whatever negotiating goes on between the Speaker and whoever is actually pulling the strings in the administration, it will be nothing more than window-dressing. We’re past the point of no return on the Imperial debt, on Imperial spending, and none of the pols in the Imperial City will be doing anything about that.