- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and numerous other 2024 GOP presidential candidates oppose Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s debt ceiling agreement with President Joe Biden that would lift the country’s borrowing limit into 2025.
- The Republican primary contenders slammed the Fiscal Responsibility Act for not cutting spending enough while increasing the debt limit, with former President Donald Trump largely remaining silent.
- “Our nation was careening towards bankruptcy before the debt deal, and it will still be careening towards bankruptcy after this debt deal,” DeSantis said in a speech Tuesday.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and several other 2024 Republican presidential candidates oppose Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s debt ceiling deal that would lift the country’s borrowing limit into 2025, while former President Trump has remained largely silent on the matter.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act caps non-defense discretionary spending at Fiscal Year 2022 levels, includes permitting reform, adds more work requirements for welfare programs and resumes student loan payments, while not raising the debt limit by a specific dollar amount. Several GOP primary contenders oppose the 99-page agreement McCarthy made with President Joe Biden, arguing that it isn’t enough to reduce federal spending.
“Our nation was careening towards bankruptcy before the debt deal, and it will still be careening towards bankruptcy after this debt deal,” DeSantis said during his campaign kickoff speech in Iowa Tuesday. “This is greenlighting $4 trillion in new debt in less than two years. It took us almost 200 years to get to 4 trillion in debt in the first place. It locks in inflated COVID [sic] era levels of spending, and it keeps 98% of the 87,000 new IRS agents that Joe Biden instituted.”
DeSantis, who is the most recent candidate to enter the growing Republican primary field, claimed the new debt limit deal won’t “solve our nation’s fiscal problems,” and touted Florida’s budget surplus, economy and gross domestic product (GDP).
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott — the only GOP presidential candidate who will actually vote on the legislation — told Axios’ Sophia Cai Wednesday that he will oppose the debt ceiling deal, though he commended McCarthy for negotiating with Biden.
“Is it in our best interest as a nation to allow Joe Biden, someone we cannot trust on spending, to have an open checkbook, no limit on the credit card, until the end of his term? And my answer is no,” said Scott. “The fact that the current deal allows for him to continue to spend however much he does, with no limit, is something that I can’t support.”
Conservative businessman Vivek Ramaswamy said on Sunday in a Twitter video he wouldn’t vote for McCarthy’s bill if he was in Congress. Ramaswamy slammed the slight reduction of the IRS’ budget for not being enough, and argued Republicans in the legislature have the “leverage” to “rein” in federal agencies through budget restrictions.
“If I were in Congress, I would absolutely vote against the debt ceiling deal. I’m not taking anything away from Kevin McCarthy here, he negotiated some nice, incremental steps, but if we actually want to think on the time scales of history, we’re going to have to act like it, rather than play in this two year, election cycle game,” Ramaswamy said. “I think we have to stand on the side of principle, and I just wanted to be clear on my position as a presidential candidate, that I’m against it.”
Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley also opposes the debt limit deal and criticized the lack of budget cuts in a statement. Haley’s campaign pointed out DeSantis and Trump’s record on increasing the nation’s borrowing limit, when the then-congressman voted for a debt ceiling hike that the former president signed in 2018, according to a press release.
“The best way to fix Washington’s spending addiction is to elect people who have not been part of the problem,” Haley said in a statement. “Adding at least $4 trillion to America’s $31 trillion national debt over two years without substantially cutting spending is no way to run our country’s fiscal affairs. Business as usual won’t get the job done.”
The Fiscal Responsibility Act does what is responsible for our kids, what is possible in divided government, & what is required by our principles. Republican resolve achieved this transformative change to how Washington works.
Full bill text is available.https://t.co/trw8wSBqnH
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) May 28, 2023
Trump has remained largely silent on debt ceiling negotiations, though McCarthy said he spoke with the former president just before reaching an agreement with Biden over the weekend, according to Reuters. McCarthy told reporters Trump encouraged him to “get a good agreement.”
“REPUBLICANS SHOULD NOT MAKE A DEAL ON THE DEBT CEILING UNLESS THEY GET EVERYTHING THEY WANT (Including the ‘kitchen sink’),” Trump wrote on Truth Social on May 19. “THAT’S THE WAY THE DEMOCRATS HAVE ALWAYS DEALT WITH US. DO NOT FOLD!!!”
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is expected to make a presidential announcement soon, criticized McCarthy’s legislation in a statement provided to the DCNF for prolonging the imminent debt limit crisis. (RELATED: Super PAC Launches Efforts To Present Pence As ‘Conservative Alternative’ To Trump, DeSantis For 2024)
“The United States is staring down a debt crisis over the next 25 years that’s driven by entitlements, and nobody in Washington, D.C., wants to talk about it,” Pence said. “Congress’ debt limit deal doesn’t just kick the can down the road, it uses Washington smoke and mirror games to make small reforms while weakening our military at a time of increasing threats from foreign adversaries.”
Conservative radio show personality Larry Elder shared Pence’s sentiment, criticizing the debt limit deal for not going far enough.
“Smoke and mirrors. Does not get us back to the pre-covid spending levels, [sic] which were already far too high,” Elder told the DCNF. “Keeps much of Biden‘s green new deal nonsense, does nothing to secure the borders. We need an amendment to the Constitution that pegs spending to a fixed percentage of GDP, with exceptions for war and for natural disasters. If we don’t do that both parties will continue spend.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson differed with the other Republican hopefuls, and believes McCarthy did the best he could given Republicans didn’t have the “leverage” to cut more spending, he said on Fox Business Tuesday; Hutchinson’s team pointed the DCNF toward his comments.
“I would like to have a better deal. Of course, everybody would like to have more steps in controlling federal spending, and reducing our deficit, but we don’t control the White House, we don’t control the Senate,” Hutchinson said on Fox Business Tuesday. “We’ve got to do the best we can in getting the framework for reducing spending – I applaud Speaker McCarthy.”
Trump did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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