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Biden says he can’t gloat about debt-ceiling deal because he wants it to pass

WASHINGTON — President Biden said Monday that he can’t gloat about Democrats doing well in debt-ceiling negotiations because he wants the bill to pass Congress.

The agreement between Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to raise the federal borrowing limit until January 2025 outraged some fiscal conservatives who wanted deeper cuts.

“One of the things that I hear some of you guys saying is, ‘Why doesn’t Biden say what a good deal it is?'” the 80-year-old president told reporters on the White House lawn.

“Why would Biden say what a good deal it is before the vote? You think that’s going to help me get it passed?” the president mused among the press.

“No. That’s why you guys don’t bargain very well,” he told them.

Biden said that any Democrats who have reservations about the legislation, which is expected to get a House vote as early as Wednesday, should “talk to me.”

Asked what he’d tell those largely left-wing Democratic skeptics, Biden said, “I’m not going to tell you.”


“Look, you guys all go on and say, ‘Tell them what a good deal this is!’ How about, ‘This was a 100% deal for Democrats,’ do you think it’d help me get it passed?” Biden asked.

When a reporter excitedly asked him who got the better deal, Democrats or Republicans, Biden added that it was a “bipartisan deal.”

The president launched into a lecture when another reporter asked if the legislation would pass “no question” by June 5, when the Treasury Department says the US will begin to be unable to pay its bills.

“You realize you’re not in the real world?” Biden told a reporter.

“No question? There is no reason why it shouldn’t get done by the 5th, I’m confident that we’ll get a vote in both houses and we will see.”

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The legislation includes new work requirements for 50-54-year-old childless adults receiving food stamps — by applying a rule already in effect for childless 18-49-year-olds — while rearranging $80 billion allocated to new IRS enforcement approved by Democrats last year.

The deal would lower non-defense discretionary spending by 1% to fiscal 2022 levels and then cap annual increases in that spending category to 1%, effectively reducing spending because inflation is higher.

A New York Times analysis said that the deal would result in a $55 billion reduction in government spending next year and a $81 billion reduction in 2025.

The deal was a brutal blow to fiscal hawks who note that federal spending remains near all-time highs due to massive COVID-19 relief packages passed since 2020 and large social spending initiatives approved during Biden’s first two years in office.

Kevin McCarthy.

Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) tweeted that the deal “locks in spending on bureaucracy at post-COVID level[s].”

“This ‘deal’ is insanity,” exclaimed Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC). “A $4T debt ceiling increase with virtually no cuts is not what we agreed to. Not gonna vote to bankrupt our country. The American people deserve better.”

“I am appalled by the debt ceiling surrender,” added Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.). “The bottom line is that the U.S. will have $35 trillion of debt in January, 2025. That is completely unacceptable.”

McCarthy and his allies argue that the agreement with Biden is an important first step to containing federal spending.

“The systemic reforms we set in place mark the beginning of historic change in Washington,” McCarthy tweeted with a graph of how the package would alter spending over time.

It is simple:
– President Biden wanted to spend more and raise taxes.
 – Republicans fought—and won—to reduce spending and stop Biden from radical overreach.

 The systemic reforms we set in place mark the beginning of historic change in Washington.

— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) May 29, 2023

Fiscal hardliners including Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), however, say there will be a fight to stop the deal in the House Rules Committee before it reaches the floor, but it’s unclear if opponents would have the power to actually block it if there’s enough Democratic backing.

Republicans had hoped for a large clawback of unused COVID-19 funds and larger cuts or rollbacks to new programs they opposed — and the brewing rebellion among conservatives means substantial Democratic buy-in will be required.

GOP negotiators initially aimed to return substantial unspent portions of Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that passed without Republican support in 2021 and last year’s $437 billion environmental and healthcare spending bill that also passed with only Democrats voting in favor.