WASHINGTON – With the United States in imminent default, the White House has increased its public pressure campaign against Republicans who don’t support raising our debt limit ..
The plan is to intensify what has become a near daily barrage of attacks against Republicans through planned events, television interviews and closely coordinated messaging, according to an administration official.
He presented the tough talk Monday accusing Republicans of playing “Russian Roulette” with the economy. Then Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned of a recession if the debt limit were not raised by Oct. 18, and White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the Republican opposition to recent efforts by Democrats to pass a debt ceiling increase a “vote to default.”
On Wednesday, Biden met publicly with corporate executives to spotlight the dire consequences if the debt limit is not raised, criticizing Republican senators as “not only hypocritical but dangerous and a bit disgraceful. The public pressure isn’t complementing closed-door discussions on a way forward. It has replaced them with open-door negotiations, with the White House insisting on closing the door to routine negotiations with Republicans about raising the debt ceiling. Biden has asked Republicans to not filibuster the Senate bill that is currently before them. This would be the only way to spare the nation from an economic crisis.
“What we’re saying is very clear: Get out of the way so we don’t end up in this catastrophic situation and we do the work of the American people,” Jean-Pierre said Tuesday. They are playing chicken with the full faith and credit of the United States. They are playing chicken with the full faith and credit of the United States.”
White House officials, a number of whom served in former President Barack Obama’s administration, have made it a priority to avoid a negotiating standoff like the one they faced a decade ago, when Republicans demanded — and got — billions of dollars in cuts to government programs in order to raise the debt ceiling.
“He and I have been down this road once before, back when I was vice president,” Biden said Tuesday of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was majority leader during the 2011 standoff. Now Biden faces a similar challenge to the president he served back then. A fight that could detract from his larger domestic policy agenda. Biden was in Michigan on Tuesday trying to build public support for a $550 billion infrastructure plan and a proposed $3.5 trillion bill for a range of social programs. In his remarks, he did not mention the debt ceiling.
Unlike during a shutdown where there are procedures and precedents in place to keep the federal government operating, there is no plan for responding to a default. According to administration officials, their priority is to avoid such a situation.
Senate Republicans are refusing to lift the debt limit to pay for spending that has already been appropriated, blocking a vote on a government funding bill offered by Democrats last week because it included a debt ceiling extension.
The Senate is scheduled to hold a procedural vote Wednesday that would allow Democrats to raise the debt ceiling on their own. If Congress fails to act or the Treasury Department’s efforts are exhausted within the next two weeks to keep funds flowing, there is nothing that the administration can do for the U.S. to pay its bills. Federally-funded programs would cease to be funded and payments to federal employees would stop.
“There is only one viable option to deal with the debt limit,” a Treasury Department spokesperson said in a written statement. “Congress needs to increase or suspend it, as it has done approximately 80 times, including three times during the last Administration. “