President Biden and Speaker McCarthy gear for messaging battle ahead of debt ceiling negotiations

The House and Senate are in session this week.

President Biden will meet with Speaker McCarthy on Wednesday to discuss (not negotiate) raising the debt ceiling. Serious negotiations are months away. Wednesday’s meeting will be part of a shorter-term messaging battle between the two parties to set the terms of the negotiations and attempt from both sides to gain political leverage in the negotiations.  Both sides want to claim the mantle of “reasonableness.”

  • The Biden Administration and congressional Democrats want to portray House Republicans as under the control of the “ultra MAGA” wing of the party.
    Speaker McCarthy and Republican leaders want to portray the White House and congressional Democrats as “irresponsible” in rejecting negotiations over spending restraints.
  • The Biden Administration wants the Republican view perceived as “brinkmanship,” “hostage-taking” and risking default.
    Speaker McCarthy and Republicans leaders want to present a genuine desire to follow debt ceiling history where the 2 sides come together in good faith negotiations.
  • The Biden Administration wants to raise fears that Republicans want to slash Social Security and Medicare.
  • Speaker McCarthy has signaled Medicare and Social Security are off the table for the debt ceiling negotiations.

The White House has a great big megaphone – and therefore a built-in advantage in disseminating their message.  The President will use the February 7th State of the Union Address to frame his argument to a large national audience.  At the same time, President Biden’s approval ratings remain historically low – particularly on handling of the economy and inflation.  Republicans will continue to press their case that the Biden administration spending policies caused the inflation and put the country on the precipice of a recession.  And therefore, a desire to negotiate spending restraint as part of the debt ceiling negotiation is the common sense, reasonable and responsible approach.  


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