White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein said Friday on MSNBC that Republicans are holding the economy “hostage” by demanding negotiations in order to raise the debt ceiling.
The Treasury Department announced Thursday the U.S. hit its $31.4 trillion debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen sent a letter to Congress saying the department would need to take “extraordinary measures” in light of the situation. Democrats and Republicans have not yet reached a solution to the crisis, with Republicans demanding spending cuts in order to agree to raise the debt ceiling. But Democrats have been firm in their opposition.
“Why won’t the White House initiate some conversations over the debt limit?” host Jose Diaz-Balart asked.
Bernstein said Biden has “shown consistent willingness and ability to negotiate with the other side when it’s on behalf of the American people,” but said the current circumstances are different.
He added Republicans raised the debt ceiling three times under former President Donald Trump.
“Kevin McCarthy signed an increase without any negotiations, any conditions, three times under President Trump. So, if [Republicans] want to talk about fiscal responsibility, bring it on. If they want to hold the economy hostage and threaten a default to force cuts to Social Security and Medicare, nope, [Biden’s] not there for that,” Bernstein said.
Bernstein then alleged Republicans are unwilling “to do what needs to be done on behalf of the American people.” (RELATED: Swalwell Says Dems Will ‘Go Around The Speaker’ To Raise Debt Ceiling, Fund Ukraine)
“I don’t think you should ever play politics with the debt ceiling,” he continued. “I don’t think you should ever threaten default of the world’s safest security, which is the U.S. dollar, threatening to raise interest rates and undermine the kind of progress we’ve made thus far.”
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy said on Fox News that Congress must “sit down” and look at where costs can be cut.
“Let’s sit down together. Let’s look at the places that we can change our behavior. Why would we sit back and be so arrogant to say, ‘No, there’s no waste in government?'” the speaker said.