President Biden warned Americans that he cannot guarantee the U.S. will not run out of money to pay its bills because Republicans in Congress are blocking a vote on the debt ceiling, a move the president called “disgraceful” and akin to “playing Russian Roulette” with the economy.
If Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling, which is needed to fund spending it has already approved, the country would default on its financial obligations. That would amount to what Biden called “a self-inflicted wound that takes our economy over a cliff.”
“It starts with a simple truth: The United States is a nation that pays its bills and always has,” Biden said in a speech Monday. “If we’re going to make good on what has already been approved by previous Congresses, and previous presidents and parties, we have to pay for it.”
The U.S. actually reached its debt limit over the summer, but Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has delayed default by using “extraordinary measures,” The New York Times reported. Yellen cautioned Congress in testimony last week that a “catastrophe” would occur if the ceiling isn’t raised by October 18th. Retirement accounts would lose value, interest rates could rise, Social Security checks could be paused the president and treasury secretary have warned.
“A meteor is headed to crash into our economy,” Biden said. “If you don’t want to help save the country, get out of the way.”
.@POTUS: "A meteor is headed to crash into our economy. Democrats are willing to do all the work
of stopping it. Republicans just have to let us do our job. Just get out of the way. If you don’t want to help save the country, get out of the way – so you don’t destroy it." pic.twitter.com/BCjAvLYmHA
— Andrew Bates (@AndrewJBates46) October 4, 2021
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a letter to the president Monday that Republicans will not help Democrats raise the debt ceiling. Republicans also made it difficult for Obama to raise it in 2011 and 2013, but they increased it multiple times — with Democrats’ help — under Trump.
“All year, your party has chosen to pursue staggering, ‘transformational’ spending through unprecedented use of the party-line reconciliation process,” McConnell wrote. Instead of counting on Republicans, he said, Democrats will need to “pass a standalone debt limit increase through reconciliation.”
But the president pointed out that one reason the country needs a higher debt ceiling is to account for Trump-era policies. “The reason we have to raise the debt limit is in part because of the reckless tax and spending policies under the previous Trump administration for four years,” he said.