One day before President Joe Biden is set to address the nation during his State of the Union speech, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy warned that “the greatest threat to our future is our national debt.”  

McCarthy, R-Calif., told Americans during a speech Monday night: “Our national debt is high, too high. And the problem is getting worse, not better.”   

America is more than $31 trillion in debt and reached its debt ceiling in January. The Treasury Department has warned that lawmakers have until early June to raise the debt ceiling or America will risk defaulting on its debt.  

McCarthy bashed Democrats for the ways they have spent Americans’ “hard-earned tax dollars like the dollars were imaginary.” While McCarthy was clear that he will demand cuts to federal spending, he assured Americans that defaulting on the national debt “is not an option.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in January that raising the debt ceiling is “something that should be done without conditions,” and she added that the White House is “not going to be negotiating over the debt ceiling.” But Republicans say they will not vote to raise the debt ceiling until Democrats agree to federal spending cuts.  

“President [Joe] Biden wants Congress to raise the debt limit yet again without a single sensible change to how government spends your hard-earned money. None,” McCarthy said.  

The speaker said the American people elected Republicans as the majority in the House “because we are committed to finding solutions that curb inflation.” Affecting inflation, according to McCarthy, is “wasteful Washington spending.”  

McCarthy spoke directly to Biden during his remarks, challenging the president to “get to work,” and adding that “Surely, we both agree that the national debt is too high. Surely, we both agree that inflation hurts American families. Surely, we can trim waste and streamline programs to make them both stronger and more efficient.”  

While McCarthy told Biden there should be “no blank checks for runaway spending,” he told Americans his three-part plan to move the ball forward regarding debates over the debt celling.  

1. “We will continue to sit down and negotiate.” 

McCarthy met with Biden at the White House last week to discuss the national debt ceiling. No formal agreement on spending and the nation debt was reached, but McCarthy called it a “very good discussion” after the fact.  

2. “Commit to finding common ground on a responsible debt limit increase.”  

Republicans have said they are willing to raise the debt limit, proving Democrats agree to federal spending cuts.  

The Republican “majority in the House will not vote to raise the debt ceiling without significant budget reform,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said during a press conference in January. 

3. “We must move towards a balanced budget and insist on genuine accountability for every dollar we spend.”  

McCarthy said balancing the budget should be done with future generations in mind. 

“My colleagues and I in Congress were elected at this moment in time to restore your voice in Washington and to deliver the bright future you want, need, and deserve, not only for you but for your children and their children,” McCarthy said. “We will not let you down.” 

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