A group of far-right Republicans on Friday issued a laundry list of draconian spending cuts and other demands in exchange for even considering raising the debt ceiling.
The House Freedom Caucus insisted that its members will not vote to increase the debt limit unless the White House cuts domestic discretionary spending by about 25% and agrees to keep it that way for a decade.
“If you don’t like what we’ve offered, bless you, that’s fine. What do you have to offer? said Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), the group’s chairman, flanked by more than a dozen fellow lawmakers.
The conservative group has also demanded that President Biden repeal his student loan forgiveness program and enact a series of right-wing proposals on climate change, public assistance and other issues that Democrats will not accept.
Although Perry described his demands as merely a starting point for negotiations, the ultimatum complicates the goal of avoiding a damaging game of political chicken over lifting the debt limit to prevent default on the nation’s debt.
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), a right-wing agitator, said the Freedom Caucus should push Republican leaders to take a hard-line stance.
“It’s time for (we) to really use the tools that we’ve fought so hard for House Republicans to have in this Congress,” Boebert said.
President Biden hit back at the group, mocking its proposed deep spending cuts and its rejection of tax increases for the wealthiest Americans.
“I don’t know that there’s a lot to trade,” Biden declared during a statement on the latest upbeat jobs report.
He said the proposed cuts would slash funding for “police, firefighters; means health care.
“We just have a very different set of values,” he added.
The GOP-led House of Representatives must raise or suspend the debt ceiling in the coming months or the US would default on its debt, a move that economists say would likely trigger a catastrophic global recession.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell have said even haggling over the debt ceiling will undermine confidence in the US economy and do serious damage.
Raising the debt ceiling was once a routine step taken by members of both parties. The spending programs that originate the debt were enacted by both parties.
But right-wing Republicans want to use the debt-ceiling hike that must pass as leverage as they seek to force Biden to concede to their unrelated demands for spending cuts on programs they don’t like.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy met with Biden at the White House last month, but there has been little sign of progress since.
The White House released its initial budget proposal, but the Republicans did not reveal their own plan, leading Democrats to accuse them of bluffing.