If you are like most people, you have had moments in your life where you looked back on a situation or encounter and thought, “I wish I had said XXX to that person.”
I have had those moments, of course. But sometimes I give it a different twist, by imagining what someone else should say. “If I were that person, I’d tell so-and-so this.”
So, if I were President Biden, here is what I would say in a presser about the so-called “debt ceiling and budget deal” of Kevin McCarthy and the House Republicans.
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“Good afternoon. Before I take questions, I would like to make a statement about the debt ceiling bill that Speaker McCarthy and the House Republicans passed recently.
First of all, let’s be clear about what they did. They combined raising the debt ceiling, which is necessary to pay for past spending, with the upcoming budget, which is where we decide on future spending.
The two are not related. If we don’t raise the debt ceiling, then we can’t pay what we already owe, and the federal government — your federal government — goes from being the most trusted borrower in the world to a deadbeat. All because the Republicans want to use the debt ceiling as what they call a “bargaining chip” – and what the rest of us call blackmail.
Basically, they proposed a budget with gigantic cuts to all sorts of social programs, then said “We’ll raise the debt ceiling if you accept these cuts.” And the cuts are truly draconian: cuts to veterans benefits, cuts to the safety net, a rollback of our progress on climate change. Their cuts would leave more people hungry, more people homeless, and more people sick and without a doctor.
To put this into terms that everyday Americans can understand, here’s what this is like. What Speaker McCarthy and the Republicans did is like a husband telling his wife, “Either you spend less on groceries, or I won’t pay the mortgage. And by the say, I’ll have another different demand next month.”
This is terrorism – economic terrorism. This is using the threat of violence to get your way. This is telling the kids in the back seat, “Either you kids shut up, or I’ll drive this car over the cliff.” Kevin McCarthy and the House Republicans are driving, and they are prepared to drive our economy over the cliff if we don’t go along with their crazy demands.
Well, here’s my message to them: We don’t negotiate with terrorists. Because if we do, we’ll just have to do it again in a year, or even sooner.
Instead, Mr. Speaker, my answer is simple: either raise the debt ceiling, or crash the economy. Those are your choices.
And before you decide to crash the economy to try to get your way, do this:
Call your friends on Wall Street and ask them how they feel about you crashing the economy.
Call your friends on Main Street and ask them how they feel about you crashing the economy.
And call your voters and ask them how they feel about you causing an economic crisis, where they will lose their jobs and their benefits and where inflation will go crazy and we will plunge into another deep, Republican-caused recession.
Go ahead – ask all those people what they think of your demands, of your economic terrorism. Then make your choice.
But be sure of one thing: If you fail to raise the debt ceiling, and crash our economy, all of us who actually care about governing well and wisely will make damn sure the American people know exactly who caused this. We will hang the recession around the neck of everyone who takes part in your terroristic acts. And when it comes time to vote for members of the House in 2024, we will remind the voters again of who to blame for our economic nightmare.
Speaker McCarthy, let me say this one last time so it is as clear as can be:
We don’t negotiate with terrorists.