Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) quipped about the pending debt crisis, expressing confidence that Congress will work to resolve the issue and hoping that President Joe Biden will negotiate with House Republicans to establish meaningful spending cuts.
The lawmaker brought his characteristic wit to an interview with Fox News, during which he predicted that “Congress will not vote to default on America’s debt” in a reflection of the will of the people. “In the past 25 years, our Congress has had 12 opportunities to vote to default,” he said. “Congress has never done that, it never will, nor should it, so everyone should take their meds and chill.”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen notified House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and other lawmakers in a letter that the debt ceiling, an arbitrary limit on the national debt established by Congress, crossed the statutory limit of $31.381 trillion as of Thursday. She warned lawmakers that “extraordinary measures” to ensure the solvency of the government have begun.
Administrations led by both Republicans and Democrats have allowed rampant budget deficit increases; shortfalls worsened over the past three years as lawmakers approved stimulus packages in reaction to the lockdown-induced recession. The national debt is now $31.5 trillion.
“The federal government spends too much, particularly over the past two years, and has too much debt,” Kennedy added. “And if we don’t stop it, we’re going to end up in a deep recession, and Google may have to lay off up to 25 members of Congress. That’s how bad it’ll be.”
The most recent breach of the debt ceiling occurred after Republican lawmakers struck a deal with McCarthy under which the party’s new majority would introduce a budget that refrains from increasing the statutory debt limit. Kennedy said that Biden should negotiate with conservative lawmakers because both parties ultimately wish to avoid a default.
“Some people, including the White House,” he continued, “are trying to demonize the House Republicans, but they’re not saying, ‘Mr. President, we can’t wait to default.’ They’re saying, ‘Mr. President, we don’t want to default. We’re not going to default on America’s debt. But we want you to work with us to control spending and debt so that we don’t find ourselves in this position again.’”
Kennedy accused the Biden administration of childishness for purportedly failing to negotiate. “They won’t even meet with the House Republicans,” he said. “I mean, how very mature. Apparently, the people at the White House are not like most teenagers: they’re all over 40.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) recently contended in a statement that Republicans alone are to blame for the fiscal uncertainty. “A default forced by extreme MAGA Republicans could plunge the country into a deep recession and lead to even higher costs for America’s working families on everything from mortgages and car loans to credit card interest rates,” they said.
Yellen, who informed lawmakers that new investments into the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund and the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund have been tentatively suspended, added in her letter to McCarthy that the efforts to keep the federal government solvent would last until June. Kennedy claimed that officials truly have until August or early September to secure a deal. “Which is enough time for the White House to grow out of puberty and sit down and talk with the House Republicans.”