Ahead of Biden's SOTU, McCarthy's "Prebuttal" Set Sights on Debt Ceiling & Fiscal Restraint

President Biden delivers the State of the Union tonight.  Speaker McCarthy gave his “prebuttal” early Monday evening.  The issue the Speaker chose to address is the significant part of the speech.  He wanted to talk about the debt ceiling.  It is the most challenging legislative battle for both parties this year in Congress, but it is not currently the top issue on voters’ minds.  But regardless of where the public is this moment, at some point this summer Congress and the White House must reach a bipartisan agreement on how to raise the debt ceiling in order to avoid default.  Right now, the two sides are far apart on how to do it.  Both Speaker McCarthy and President Biden want to increase their political leverage by presenting the more reasonable case.

Republicans want fiscal restraint – spending cuts – to be tied to raising the debt ceiling.  The White House wants the debt ceiling raised with no strings attached.

The Speaker laid out why Republicans are pushing for spending restraints:

“Our national debt is high. Too high. And the problem is getting worse, not better.  We are now 31 trillion dollars in debt. That is more than the size of the entire American economy. 20 percent more.  Our debt is now a greater burden than it has been at any time since World War 2 … “Now, President Biden wants Congress to raise the debt limit yet again without a single, sensible change to how government spends your hard-earned money. None.  Does that sound responsible to you?”

The emerging Republican position is:

  1. They want to avoid default
  2. Social Security and Medicare are off the table
  3. Fiscal reforms have often been part of debt ceiling negotiations in th past and should be this time
  4. Our current fiscal path is not sustainable

President Biden’s case is that paying for what we have already spent should not be held hostage to the “MAGA” wing of the Republican party’s demands or brinkmanship.  The debt ceiling should be raised on its own because – the debt ceiling needs to be raised.   He will have a large national audience tonight to deliver his case.


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