House Speaker Kevin McCarthy sent President Joe Biden a letter on Tuesday suggesting how to reign in government spending, but his ideas are ambiguous and unlikely to actually solve anything.
McCarthy also included several proposals from the House Freedom Caucus, the far-right wing of House Republicans, which exercises outsize influence in the chamber after establishing itself as McCarthy’s main obstacle to the speakership.
The California Republican accused Biden of “putting an already fragile economy in jeopardy by insisting upon your extreme position on the debt limit.”
McCarthy also suggests scaling back non-defense federal spending to “pre-inflationary levels.” He does not propose changing the massive defense budget, nor does he explain how to get federal spending down with inflation still at a record high.
The final proposal is to implement “policies to grow our economy and keep Americans safe, including measures to lower energy costs, make America energy independent, and secure our border from the flow of deadly fentanyl that is killing 300 Americans per day.” McCarthy does not explain how to lower energy costs if the government does not subsidize them, nor how he plans to wean the U.S. off of foreign fossil fuels. His plan includes no mention of how to actually secure the border, or what this has to do with lowering the debt, and is instead just another dig at Biden for the influx of immigrants.
Republicans have shot down previous legislative attempts to jumpstart the economy and create more jobs, such as Biden’s Build Back Better Plan. They refuse to consider energy-saving measures such as investing in green energy, and they have also rejected the idea of a billionaire tax.
McCarthy’s plan does not explicitly mention cutting Medicaid or Social Security, a major sticking point in the increasingly heated budget debate, though Medicaid work requirements would effectively cut down the number of people on the program. The GOP has made clear they are willing to hold the debt ceiling hostage in order to cut costs in the federal budget.
Democrats are refusing to compromise on the debt ceiling, setting up a drawn-out battle. If the debate goes on too long, the United States could be in serious trouble. The government already hit the debt ceiling in January, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has previously warned the U.S. could default on its debt by the summer if the cap isn’t raised.
“It’s simply a recipe for economic and financial catastrophe to think we can pay some of our bills and not all of them,” Yellen told the Senate Finance Committee two weeks ago.