‘Answer My Question’: Sen. John Kennedy Grills Biden Treasury Secretary On ‘Unsustainable’ Debt


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Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana grilled Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Wednesday on what level of debt was “unsustainable.”

“So, what the president is saying is — these are my words, not his — because of his budget, we’re going to have three heart attacks and a stroke instead of four heart attacks and a stroke,” Kennedy said during a Wednesday hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee, noting that the federal debt was slated to climb by $18 trillion over ten years. (RELATED: Biden HHS Secretary Unable To Say How Many Gov’t Workers Actually Show Up To Work In Federal Buildings)

President Joe Biden released a proposed budget for fiscal year 2024 March 9, which included over $5 trillion in new tax increases, including a 20% hike in the capital gains tax rate and a 7.6% increase in the top income tax rate.


“Well, I would not agree that we’re going to have three heart attacks and a stroke because we have a very large economy, and while the numbers that you cite are very big numbers, the size of our economy is also extremely large,” Yellen said in response. “And I think a better metric for assessing what the impact of the budget is on our economy and whether or not it’s manageable is real net interest on the — the real net interest payments that we have to make relative to the size of our economy.”

Kennedy noted that the debt would rise to $51 trillion from the current level of about $33 trillion, and Yellen claimed that the level of debt was “sustainable.”

“Well, how much debt is too much? Tell me that,” Kennedy said.

“Well, I — I just gave you the metric that I think is best for assessing fiscal sustainability,” Yellen said.

After further back-and-forth, Kennedy, who stumped judicial nominee S. Kato Crews with a question about the landmark case Brady v Maryland Wednesday, appeared to lose his patience with Yellen.

“Could you just answer my question, Madam Secretary?” Kennedy asked. “What percentage of — what percentage of our debt of our GDP is too much?”

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