U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on April 19, 2023.

U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on April 19, 2023.

(Photo: Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

McCarthy Finally Unveils 'Republican Default Disaster' Bill

Social Security Works summarized the House GOP's plan as: "Crash the economy unless Democrats agree to MASSIVE CUTS to programs seniors, people with disabilities, and working families rely on to survive."

Again rebuffing calls from people across the United States, congressional Democrats, and President Joe Biden for a clean debt limit hike, GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday officially unveiled a 320-page bill full of proposed cuts.

McCarthy (R-Cailf.) explained on the House floor that the so-called Limit, Save, Grow Act, formally led by Budget Committee Chair Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), would raise the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion or until March 31, 2024—averting a first-ever default, which would be disastrous for the U.S. and global economies.

Echoing McCarthy's Monday speech to Wall Street, the bill would also cap federal spending at fiscal year 2022 levels, limit spending growth to 1% annually, impose work requirements for social programs, block Biden's contested student debt relief plan, restrict federal rule-making, claw back unspent Covid-19 money, force through the House GOP's pro-polluter energy package, and repeal funding for Internal Revenue Service agents as well as electric vehicle and renewable tax credits.

"What Speaker McCarthy proposed today would harm millions of families and devastate our economic recovery."

While the GOP speaker tried to paint the proposal as "responsible," Democrats and progressive campaigners argued that it's anything but, warned of the consequences it would have for the American people and the planet, and renewed demands for a clean bill.

"Kevin McCarthy is treating our nation's financial standing like a hostage situation in order to hand Big Polluters whatever they want," declared Friends of the Earth government and political affairs director Ariel Moger. "We cannot listen to Republicans who are willing to threaten financial catastrophe rather than passing a clean bill that raises the debt limit."

Summarizing the House GOP's measure, Social Security Workstweeted, "The #RepublicanDefaultDisaster plan: Crash the economy unless Democrats agree to MASSIVE CUTS to programs seniors, people with disabilities, and working families rely on to survive."

As Common Dreams exclusively reported earlier Wednesday, Social Security Works is among a couple dozen groups that sent GOP and Democratic leaders in Congress a letter demanding a clean debt ceiling increase, stating that "there are real disagreements among elected officials about the role of government, budgetary matters, and tax policy. We understand that and welcome a robust debate and seeing where the American people stand. There's a time and place for that debate. This is not that time."

In a statement after McCarthy's speech, ProsperUS coalition spokesperson Claire Guzdar similarly said that "Congress should move immediately to prevent federal default and eliminate the debt ceiling as a hostage for House Republicans to take in their crusade to cut needed investments."

"What Speaker McCarthy proposed today would harm millions of families and devastate our economic recovery," Guzdar added. "Anyone who is truly concerned about the deficit and debt should be looking to the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share."

Liz Zelnick, director of the Economic Security and Corporate Power program at Accountable.US, pointed out that amid mounting fears of a default in recent months, "Speaker McCarthy has wasted precious time trying to corral the MAGA House majority over which economic hostage demands to make in exchange for not manufacturing a default crisis."

"MAGA extremists can't even agree on which Americans to punish more in the process as they shamelessly propose trillions of dollars in new deficit-exploding tax breaks for profiteering corporations and their billionaire donors," she stressed. "Not a single House Republican has said big corporations should contribute a dime more toward their supposed debt 'concerns.' And the speaker has certainly not won over the public with his lose-lose proposition: either cuts that leave Americans with less economic, retirement, and health security—or a default that crashes the economy and disrupts benefits for seniors and veterans."

"If the speaker doesn't want to go down as the first to usher in a catastrophic default that will crater the economy and deprive seniors of Social Security," Zelnick charged, "he should immediately put a clean bill on the floor allowing the nation to pay its bills."

Top Democrats also called out McCarthy, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) noting in a floor speech Wednesday that "months and months after he proposed making deep cuts as a condition, as brinkmanship, as hostage-taking, to just simply make sure that we avoid default—even now he is still short of the support he needs to pass a debt ceiling bill, because the chasm is too big between moderates and the hard-right extremists who are glad to see the economy taken hostage in exchange for their priorities."

"If Republicans drop their hostage-taking and approach Democrats in good faith, the default crisis can be resolved," Schumer said. "But if Speaker McCarthy does not change course, he will be leading America into default of not paying our debts for the first time."

After declaring that "this disaster of a plan is a nonstarter," Senate Budget Committee Chair Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) called out MAGA Republicans for "holding our economy hostage to service their wealthy donors" and vowed congressional Democrats "will never give into the demands of hostage-takers."

Meanwhile, just after McCarthy's speech, Biden told members of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 77 in Accokeek, Maryland that "you and the American people should know about the competing economic visions of the country that are really at stake right now."

"I'm here in this union hall with you," the president noted. "Just two days ago, the speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, went to Wall Street to describe the MAGA economic vision for America."

"Folks, here's what's really dangerous: MAGA Republicans in Congress are threatening to default on the national debt... unless we do what they say... unless I agree to all these wacko notions they have," Biden said.

Defaulting would be "worse than totally irresponsible," he added, highlighting that working people, the middle class, and seniors would pay the price for putting the entire economy at risk.

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