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It’s time for President Biden to “put people over politics” on debt ceiling talks

Shreveport Times: Rep. Mike Johnson

WASHINGTON — On Sunday, United States Representative Mike Johnson (LA-04) penned an op-ed in the Shreveport Times imploring President Biden to engage in good faith negotiations with House Republicans on the debt ceiling. Congressman Johnson highlighted President Biden’s long history of supporting debt ceiling negotiations and cited data that shows 70% of Americans want their leaders in Washington to negotiate a responsible debt ceiling increase.

Read the full op-ed here or below:

It's time for President Biden to "put people over politics" on debt ceiling talks 

President Biden is playing the most dangerous game.

America’s national debt has eclipsed $31.7 trillion, Social Security and Medicare are on a path to insolvency, and employers are being forced to reduce their workforces. This trajectory is simply unsustainable and its inevitable end is calamitous.

Net interest on our national debt will reach $10.5 trillion in less than a decade – meaning 20 cents of every tax dollar collected will go toward paying interest on America’s debt. We’ll be robbing Peter to pay Paul, and our children and grandchildren will be saddled with a bill they can never pay.

Given these dire economic realities, House Republicans just passed a bill to both pay our debts and usher in the largest spending cuts in American history so we can begin to put our country on a sustainable fiscal path.

The “Limit, Save, Grow Act” saves taxpayers nearly $5 trillion, sets common sense caps on future spending levels, grows the economy, increases American energy production to lower prices on working families, and defunds this Administration’s aggressive expansion of the IRS. Yes, it also raises the debt ceiling – a demand from President Biden that we are willing to concede – in exchange for practical, common sense policy changes to start addressing the irresponsible tax-and-spend practices Democrats have engaged in for decades.

But the president is still pretending he has unified control of Washington, D.C., and Tuesday’s meeting between the four Congressional leaders and the president yielded no progress. 

President Biden and Congressional Democrats remain stubbornly defiant and insist they will only support a “clean” debt ceiling increase. They are desperate to raise America’s credit card limit yet again– without enacting any reforms to their long habit of reckless spending. But the American people know that is a dangerous gambit, and as the a poll this week shows, a large majority of voters agree “the federal government spends too much and needs to make cuts.”

This Administration wants no guardrails at all on spending, and that philosophy is what has led us to the record high inflation, rising interest rates, and instability in our banking system that is causing America so much pain.

Ordinarily, the House would pass a bill to lift the debt ceiling, the Senate would do the same, then the two chambers would come together and negotiate on a final product to send to the president’s desk.

But these are no ordinary times.

Instead, President Biden has refused to come to the table in good faith, even though he has a long personal history in the Senate of enthusiastically supporting debt ceiling negotiations—and publicly criticizing those who don’t.

The truth is that pairing debt ceiling increases with fiscal reforms and deficit reduction policies is common, and provides one of the few meaningful opportunities Congress has to address Washington’s spending obsession.

Congress did so in 1985, 1990, 2010, and 2011 – and Joe Biden actually led those negotiations with House Republicans in previous stints in office. When he was vice president, Biden said “we’ve got to make some real progress” on the national debt. And it was only $14 trillion at that point. Now the hole is more than twice as deep, and the president can’t even be bothered to negotiate.

This is no way to govern. As the leader of the free world with an economy on the brink of collapse, the President can’t just go out for ice cream and look the other way.

And it’s not just House Republicans sounding the alarm; 70% of Americans believe the President should come to the table and negotiate a responsible increase with Speaker McCarthy.

After all, every American citizen must balance our own budget, pay off our debts, and cut costs when spending outpaces our wages. Shouldn’t we expect the same from our government leaders?

This entire debate is symptomatic of the unmitigated rot that has afflicted Washington. Our constituents know the parties must negotiate, the markets know we need to negotiate, and until a decade ago, Joe Biden did too.

Right now, the ball is fully in his court.

To borrow a talking point from the White House, the president should put “people over politics,” and deliver a smart, cost-saving win for the American people.

Congressman Johnson is the Vice Chairman of the House Republican Conference, a member of the House Judiciary and Armed Services Committees, and a former constitutional law litigator.