Bernie Sanders, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, supports raising America’s debt ceiling but insists that the practice itself of having a debt ceiling must remain.
“You have to increase the debt ceiling,” Sanders insisted while speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union.” When asked whether the debt ceiling must be kept, Sanders confirmed “Yes, yes.” Sanders went on to criticize the GOP for proposing cuts in Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security—a move he called “absolutely irresponsible.” The Republican Party is expected to insist on such spending cuts in return for agreeing to raise the debt ceiling.
“What Republicans are basically doing—and I hope everybody understands this—they are saying, ‘Look, we are prepared to let the United States default on its debt, not raise the debt ceiling, unless you talk about making cuts,’” Sanders said.
He claimed that although the Republican Party has been putting pressure on Democrats over rising inflation and the state of the economy, the GOP has no economic plan of its own. “What do they want to do, other than complain?” Sanders said.
The debt ceiling is the maximum amount the U.S. government is authorized to borrow. The last time the debt limit was raised was in December 2021 when the ceiling was increased by $2.5 trillion to about $31.4 trillion.
The United States could reach that limit early in 2023.
In an interview with Punchbowl News, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), said that if the GOP wins the House, the party will insist the Biden administration deploy spending cuts in order to get Republican support for raising the debt ceiling.
“You can’t just continue down the path to keep spending and adding to the debt,” McCarthy said. “And if people want to make a debt ceiling [for a longer period of time], just like anything else, there comes a point in time where, okay, we’ll provide you more money, but you got to change your current behavior.”
Speaking to CNN, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) said she backed the GOP strategy of using debt ceiling negotiations to force spending cuts.
Mace, who sits on the House Oversight Committee, said that Republicans have tried to work with Democrats on responsible spending but have been shut out of those conversations.
In 2021 when the infrastructure bill was being discussed in the House, every Republican was shut off from being part of the discussion, Mace said. Leveraging the debt ceiling “is a way to negotiate moving forward.”
According to budgetary data for fiscal year 2022, the Biden administration ran a deficit of $1.4 trillion, which comes to roughly $120 billion added to the country’s debt each month. In the pre-pandemic fiscal year 2019, the federal deficit was below $1 trillion.