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Friday, September 29, 2023

Biden must resist Republican debt ceiling demands. Here’s what he needs to do instead

We are at a pivotal moment in American history. In the coming days, decisions will be made with respect to our federal budget and the national debt that could impact the lives of virtually every American in our country for decades to come. 

In my view, the debate we are having on the debt ceiling is about our national priorities. It is about what we value as a nation and whose side we are on. 

At a time of unprecedented wealth and income inequality, when the top 1% has never had it so good and when three people on top own more wealth than the bottom half of our society, do we finally demand that the billionaire class start paying their fair share of taxes? Or do we shower the wealthy and well-connected with trillions of dollars in new tax breaks?


Or do we continue to allow the pharmaceutical industry to bankrupt Medicare and cancer patients by charging outrageously high prices at the pharmacy counter? 

At a time when the United States spends more on the military — $877 billion — than the next 10 nations combined, do we finally begin to eliminate the enormous waste, fraud and cost over-runs that exist at the Department of Defense?

Biden claims he is 'blameless' in US debt talks' Video

Do we address the information revealed in a recent “60 Minutes” investigation that documented the billions in price gouging that defense contractors steal from taxpayers? Or do we continue to appropriate more money for the Pentagon than our generals have requested? 

At a time when we pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs do we finally take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry and substantially reduce the price of what Medicare and the American people pay for life-saving medicine?  

Why do they want huge increases in defense spending that would increase the national debt by hundreds of billions of dollars? 

President Biden speaking

President Biden needs to stand up to House Republicans and use the 14th Amendment to prevent a default. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

While defaulting on our nation’s debt would be a disaster so would enacting the budget Republicans passed in the House in April. Here are just some of the estimated impacts of what is included in their budget to cut non-defense discretionary spending by at least 22% next year:  

  • Deep and sweeping budget cuts that would push 790,000 Americans out of their jobs and push our economy toward a recession.
  • Up to 21 million Americans could lose Medicaid, ripping away the healthcare they need.
  • 80,000 jobs would be cut at the Department of Veterans Affairs alone and millions of veterans would be forced to wait much longer for the care and benefits they need.

In my view, the debate we are having on the debt ceiling is about our national priorities. It is about what we value as a nation and whose side we are on. 

The willingness of Republicans to hold the world’s economy hostage to their Draconian and cruel demands has made it extremely difficult to enact a bipartisan budget deal at this time. 

So where do we go from here? 


Back in 2016, then-President Donald Trump was correct when he said: “This is the United States government. First of all, you never have to default because you print the money.” 


Using the 14th Amendment would allow the United States to continue to pay its bills on-time and without delay, prevent an economic catastrophe, and prevent huge cuts to healthcare, education, childcare, affordable housing, nutrition assistance and the needs of our veterans. 

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