President Joe Biden “has been missing in action and misleading the public,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Monday in New York as the debt ceiling debate continued in Washington.

“I met with President Biden at the White House on Feb. 1—75 days ago,” McCarthy said in a speech at the New York Stock Exchange focused on a “responsible increase” in the nation’s debt ceiling. “During our meeting, I told the president clearly: ‘Let’s find a way to come to an agreement, like we have before.’ Had the president agreed to negotiate in good faith, we’d already be done.”

“Unfortunately, I have not heard from the White House since our very first meeting,” McCarthy said, adding:

President Biden has been missing in action and misleading the public. Mr. President, with all due respect, enough is enough. This is not how the leader of the free world should act. Your partisan political games are provoking the very crisis you claim to avoid: greater dependency on China, increasing inflation, and threatening Medicare and Social Security.

The U.S. reached the debt limit of $31.4 trillion Jan. 19, as The Daily Signal previously reported.

McCarthy also highlighted House Republicans’ plan.

“In the coming weeks, the House will vote on a bill to lift the debt ceiling into the next year, save taxpayers trillions of dollars, make us less dependent upon China, curve our high inflation—all without touching Social Security and Medicare,” the House speaker said. “Simply put, it puts us on a fiscally responsible path in three ways: It limits, it saves, and it grows.”

“First, we’ll limit federal spending. In the past two years, discretionary spending in Washington has exploded by more than 17%. That’s faster than GDP growth or even inflation,” McCarthy said, referring to the nation’s gross domestic product. “And keep in mind, the new spending does not include the trillions of dollars of COVID-era spending. From 2011 to 2021, the federal government operated under spending caps.”

The California Republican continued:

Though these caps were occasionally raised through debt limit negotiations, they were largely successful: Discretionary spending flatlined and overall spending growth slowed dramatically.

Our legislation accomplishes the same goal by returning the federal government to 2022 levels, and then limit the growth of spending over the next 10 years to 1% of annual growth.

McCarthy said Republicans also would “save taxpayers money” and “grow the economy so we stop being dependent on China.”

“My fellow Americans, as we confront the consequences of President Biden’s extreme, reckless spending, congressional Republicans are ready to act and to lead,” McCarthy said. “That is the resolve of the House Republican majority, every single one of them.”

White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates responded in an email to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

“Speaker McCarthy is breaking with the bipartisan norm he followed under Trump by engaging in dangerous economic hostage taking that threatens hard-working Americans’ jobs and retirement savings,” Bates said. “In 2019, Donald Trump himself said, ‘I can’t imagine anybody ever even thinking of using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge.’ This morning, Speaker McCarthy did just that.”

Bates added:

Meanwhile, he again failed to clearly outline what House Republicans are proposing and will vote on, even as he referenced a vague, extreme MAGA wish list that will increase costs for hard-working families, take food assistance and health care away from millions of Americans, and yet would enlarge the deficit when combined with House Republican proposals for tax giveaways skewed to the super-rich, special interests, and profitable companies. 

A speech isn’t a plan, but it did showcase House Republicans’ priorities. Rather than ask the super wealthy to pay their fair share, they propose cutting services for veterans. Rather than cut spending to Big Pharma, they propose sending manufacturing jobs overseas to countries including China.

Thursday, the conservative Main Street Caucus, chaired by Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., sent a letter to McCarthy outlining priorities for the debt ceiling.

“In recent weeks, the 70 members of the Republican Main Street Caucus have discussed the options you’ve identified, as well as some others,” Johnson and Vice Chairman Stephanie Bice, R-Okla., wrote McCarthy. “This letter outlines those proposals that have garnered the most support from our caucus, and we have every confidence they can secure 218 votes in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

A total of 218 votes normally is needed to pass legislation in the House.

“Over the last 70 days, President Biden has refused to negotiate a reasonable and sensible debt ceiling increase with you,” Johnson and Bice said. “We know these negotiations will be incredibly difficult, and you will continue to have our full support as you work to get our fiscal house in order.”

The Main Street Caucus’ priorities include:

  • Capture $70 billion in unspent COVID-19 funds.
  • Reverse the White House’s decision to offer $600 billion in unconstitutional studen loan forgiveness.
  • Return nondefense discretionary spending for fiscal year 2024 to fiscal year 2022 levels.
  • Limit the growth of nondefense discretionary spending to 1.5% a year for the next 10 years.
  • Enact HR 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act, to stimulate the economy and protect America’s energy security. Highest priority, the caucus said, should be given to provisions related to permitting reform.

In March, the House’s most conservative caucus announced its “Shrink Washington, Grow America” plan.

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, began a press conference by discussing Democrats’ support for the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill that Biden signed into law Dec. 23.

“Two weeks after that, on Jan. 13, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen informed America that our debt had reached its statutory limit. The point is that this current debt crisis has been created solely by reckless Democrat policies and out-of-control spending,” Perry said. 

“However, America will not default on our debts unless President Biden chooses to do so. To ensure America does not default on our debts, the House Freedom Caucus is offering a responsible solution to this self-imposed crisis,” Perry said. 

“Simply put, the plan is to shrink Washington and grow America,” he said.


Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.