As debt ceiling negotiations continued at the White House Wednesday afternoon, leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus charged that some Republicans in Congress want to create an economic crisis to help their electoral chances next year.
"I think there are many in the Republican Party, unfortunately, that want to crash the economy, that want to send this country into chaos and catastrophe, and think that maybe it will help their election prospects in 2024 if the country is in chaos—and that is just absolutely cruel, untenable, cannot be rewarded," said CPC Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).
Jayapal's remarks came during a press conference on Capitol Hill, where she was flanked by several other CPC members—including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), the caucus' deputy chair, who agreed that the GOP is willing to force the nation's first-ever default to tank the economy for a potential advantage in upcoming elections.
Omar urged journalists to ask why negotiators for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) are not willing to give Democrats anything other than avoiding a default. "That is not negotiation—negotiations are give and take," she said.
"They are not negotiating," Omar added of Republicans. "They are looking to waste time, play games, and make sure we default because they think that somehow that is going to be a political advantage that they will have in the coming elections."
"The reality is, Americans are not going to forget and forgive them if there is a default," she said, arguing that if there is a default, both sides should not be blamed for potential impacts, such as the gross domestic product dropping or unemployment hitting 8%.
Citing a Tuesday night conversation with the White House about debt limit talks, Jayapal said that "the Republicans rejected $3 trillion worth of policies that could have gone toward deficit reduction," and now they want to give the rich more tax breaks.
"They're not negotiating at all," Jayapal added of Republicans. "Unreasonable, extreme, cruel."
Omar and Jayapal's warnings came after President Joe Biden made a similar suggestion at the very end of a press conference in Hiroshima, Japan on Sunday, before he headed back to Washington, D.C. to meet with McCarthy about the debt ceiling.
Asked if he would be "blameless" in the event of a default, the president responded that "on the merits, based on what I've offered, I would be blameless. On the politics of it, no one would be blameless. And, by the way... that's one of the things that some are contemplating."
"I actually had—well, I got to be careful here. I think there are some MAGA Republicans in the House who know the damage that it would do to the economy," he added. "And because I am president, and presidents are responsible for everything, Biden would take the blame. And that's the one way to make sure Biden's not reelected."
Biden formally confirmed last month that he is running for reelection. While recent polling suggests his GOP challenger will be former President Donald Trump, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisfiled paperwork for a White House run on Wednesday.
A Quinnipiac University survey conducted from last Thursday through Monday shows Trump is the top pick for 56% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters, followed by DeSantis with 25%—compared with late March, when 47% of such voters chose Trump and 33% picked DeSantis.
The polling results, released Wednesday, also reveal that 71% of Americans are somewhat concerned (33%) or very concerned (38%) that "President Biden and Congress won't reach a deal on the national debt ceiling, causing the federal government to run out of cash to pay its bills."
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has repeatedly warned McCarthy that the so-called X-date could come as soon as June 1.