Republican Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy said this week that he doesn’t believe the United States will end up defaulting on any of its debt.
During a Wednesday appearance on “Squawk Box” on CNBC, which came just one day after he met at the White House with President Joe Biden and some other leaders in Congress, he said:
“I think, at the end of the day, we do not have a debt default.”
According to the Treasury Department, the U.S. will officially not have sufficient money to meet all its debt obligations as of June 1, if something isn’t done about the current debt ceiling.
The fact that Republicans and Democrats have been so much at odds with each other – especially GOP House leaders and Biden administration officials – has led many people to believe it could be a serious possibility that the deadline passes with nothing being done.
Yet, McCarthy said on Wednesday that he was encouraged by the president’s apparent willingness to sit down and negotiate with Republicans on the issue. Emphasizing the importance of coming to agreement on a compromise, he said:
“The difference is our meetings before were staffers or the four [congressional] leaders and there was no time we were going to get an agreement continuing that way. The only thing I’m confident about is now we have a structure to find a way to come to a conclusion.
“The timeline is very right, but we’re going to make sure we’re in the room and get this done.”
One thing that McCarthy said wouldn’t be on the table during negotiations is raising taxes. He even said that Biden himself admitted that an increase in taxes wasn’t going to happen as part of any debt ceiling negotiation.
It’s not just McCarthy who has a positive outlook for the way negotiations are going. His counterpart in the House, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, also said that he was “optimistic” that a negotiated deal would be reached in advance of the June 1 deadline.
He commented on the meeting at the White House this week:
“It was a very positive meeting. It was calm. It was candid in terms of the discussion, and I’m optimistic common ground will be found in the next week or two.”
The only way that the federal government will be able to meet all of its spending commitments and avoid default is to increase the debt ceiling. Republicans in the House are adamant that if they were to agree to raise the debt ceiling, that future spending cuts must be part of the deal now.
The GOP tried to attach requirements for people to work to qualify for food benefits from the federal government, but that was a “nonstarter” for Democrats, Jeffries said. He even pointed out that in 2018, the last time that work requirements had been proposed, many other Republicans including McCarthy voted it down.
“It’s entirely unreasonable to think that at this particular point in time, in the context of a debt ceiling showdown that has been manufactured, as part of an effort to avoid default, that these types of so-called work requirements can be imposed on the American people.”