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McCarthy, Biden to meet on debt ceiling

Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden will meet May 22 on whether and how high to raise the debt ceiling, and on a national budget.

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McCarthy, Biden to meet on debt ceiling

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Speaker of the House, will meet with President Joe Biden to discuss a national budget and whether (and by how much) to raise the federal debt ceiling, according to Reuters.

McCarthy touts “productive” call

McCarthy made some statements to reporters at the Capitol, after a telephone call with the President as he returns to Washington from the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima, Japan. The Speaker called the phone call “productive” and said his staff and Presidential staff would resume talks this evening. McCarthy then confirmed that he and the President would talk face-to-face on Monday. White House staff have confirmed this, but declined to specify a time.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen named June 1 as a “hard deadline” for raising the debt ceiling. If this does not happen, the country will default on at least some of its debts.

The Speaker also confirmed that the two sides remain far apart on any deal. In the past, Congress has raised the debt ceiling as a matter of routine. This time, the Speaker has refused unless the government slows spending significantly.

Biden’s proposed budget raises the Medicare tax and taxes on “high-income earners” and corporations. The Republicans have proposed a “Limit, Save and Grow Act” that, they say, will save $4.8 trillion by reducing discretionary spending, repealing some energy tax credits, and ending the cancellation of student debt.

Biden's budget v. Republican budget. Source: CBO, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Via Reuters.
From Congressional Budget Office and Committee for a Responsible Budget; per Prinz Magtulis, Reuters.

While McCarthy sounded conciliatory, Biden has not. He has spoken of “unacceptable” spending cuts, “Big Oil subsidies,” and “wealthy tax cheats.” However, he has never named any specific examples of what he means. Furthermore, no one has ever specified how oil companies receive any subsidy not comparable to other mining interests.

Fourteenth Amendment invocation?

Earlier, Agence France-Presse released a story that Biden was considering invoking the Fourteenth Amendment to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally.

Section Four of Amendment XIV reads in relevant part:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

The key phrase in the above is authorized by law. Whether appropriations take precedence over the debt ceiling (which also is a matter of law) is far from clear.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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