Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks to reporters

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) speaks to reporters on February 2, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Omar Says Debt Limit Bill Shows GOP Only Cares About Rewarding 'Billionaire Friends'

"They don't care about the deficit," said Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Rep. Ilhan Omar argued Thursday that the House GOP's newly passed debt ceiling legislation further demonstrates Republican lawmakers' unwavering "commitment to transferring wealth from the working class to their billionaire friends."

"They don't care about the deficit," Omar (D-Minn.) wrote on Twitter, citing the massive cost of tax cuts for the rich approved by congressional Republicans under former Presidents Donald Trump and George W. Bush. One recent analysis estimated that the Trump and Bush tax cuts have "added $10 trillion to the debt since their enactment and are responsible for 57% of the increase in the debt ratio since 2001."

Omar, who has warned that the Republican bill would eliminate childcare access for thousands of kids in her state, also pointed to the measure's steep proposed cuts to Medicaid, federal food assistance, and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) funding aimed at cracking down on rich tax dodgers.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Republican bill's cuts to IRS funding would add $114 billion to the deficit by undermining tax enforcement—largely offsetting the "savings" Republicans are attempting to achieve by imposing punitive work requirements on recipients of Medicaid and nutrition assistance.

Progressive economists and analysts have offered similar critiques of the House GOP bill, which is opposed by the Biden White House and dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate—though Republicans are hoping to squeeze some of their provisions into final debt ceiling legislation by using the threat of a disastrous default as leverage.

In a blog post earlier this week, Josh Bivens and Samantha Sanders of the Economic Policy Institute dismissed as "laughable" House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's (R-Calif.) claim that the Republican proposal "would put the United States on a path to 'fiscal responsibility' and lower inflation.

"The biggest driver of deficits for the last 20 years has been a steady trend toward ever-larger tax cuts for corporations and the richest U.S. households," Bivens and Sanders wrote. "No one who actually wants to reduce the federal deficit should be looking to do that on the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable Americans."

"This is the next milestone in House Republicans' attempt to play a game of dangerous political brinkmanship with the U.S. economy, trying to force through harmful and deeply unpopular federal spending cuts in exchange for increasing the debt limit," they added. "This approach recklessly flirts with bringing on the economic catastrophe of a government default in the short term."

Sharon Parrott, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said in a statement that the bill "represents failed trickle-down economics at its worst."

"The bill would make severe cuts—$3.6 trillion over the next decade—to the part of the budget that funds childcare and preschool, schools, college aid, housing, medical research, transportation, and many other national priorities," Parrott noted. "Even as the bill makes these drastic, damaging cuts, it protects the wealthy from paying what they owe in taxes by repealing IRS funding enacted in the Inflation Reduction Act."

Speaking to HuffPost on Thursday, Omar said President Joe Biden is right to oppose any legislation that connects sweeping spending cuts to a necessary debt limit increase.

"What the Republicans are doing is they're taking our economy and the global economy hostage," said Omar. "I think that there is time to have budget negotiations and have those conversations but they should not be tied to raising the debt ceiling."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.