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Tipsheet

Biden Won't Like What Americans Had to Say About His Position on the Debt Ceiling

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Even though Republicans in the House of Representatives put together and successfully passed a bill to raise the debt ceiling and avoid the nation's first default on its debts while capping discretionary spending at Democrats' FY2022 levels, President Joe Biden said he would veto anything but a "clean" bill to only raise the debt limit. At the same time, Biden let more than two months pass without negotiating to reach a deal that would pass the House and Senate and receive his signature. 

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Biden's do-nothing strategy until now has seen a growing number of congressional Democrats, including Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) call on the president to begin negotiations to avoid a default. When it comes to American voters, President Biden is even more isolated in his position and strategy to date.

Echelon Insights' April 2023 omnibus found that nearly three-in-four American voters — 74 percent — disagree with Biden's stated negotiating position and instead believe he needs to come to the table and find a deal that includes "some reductions in government spending." 

That is, President Biden's plan to just do nothing and wait until he can use brinkmanship to force House Republicans into caving to his will is overwhelmingly unpopular with the American people, nearly 60 percent of which also disapprove of Biden's handling of the economy in general.

President Biden and his administration have leaned heavily on a poll they say shows some 70 percent of Americans want the debt ceiling to be raised. That's an understandable reality, given defaulting on the debt would be a historic and economically bad development. But Biden is ignoring the fact that a desire to avoid default by raising the debt ceiling is not the same as explicit agreement with his position that the debt ceiling is non-negotiable and any spending cuts would mean he'd veto the bill. 

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Instead, Americans know that negotiations are necessary — a reality Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have spent months hiding from as ostriches with their heads in the sand — and believe federal spending cuts should be a part of the final deal.

Conveniently, House Republicans have already delivered on what nearly 75 percent of Americans are looking for — a piece of legislation that avoids default, raises the debt limit, and reduces federal spending to levels that were in place just a few months ago.

Meanwhile, Biden has been absent from the situation, and Schumer hasn't made a counteroffer. It seems Schumer may be preparing to trot out a familiar tactic for the New York Democrat: using the debt ceiling and a potential default as a bludgeon to force Republicans to pass what he wants. In 2017, Schumer said the debt ceiling was the "one thing" he had as "leverage." However, as Echelon's omnibus found, American voters are looking for a compromise from their leaders, not a hostage situation. 

House Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington (R-TX) noted after the House GOP passed its Limit, Save, Grow Act, that "President Biden and the Democrat-run Senate have been missing-in-action." The White House and Senate Democrats, he added, proved themselves to be "more interested in crafting lazy political attacks than they are in solving the nation's debt crisis. We owe the American people more than that."

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"House Republicans are showing leadership," Rep. Arrington reminded. "Time for Democrats to do their job." According to the American people, that "job" is negotiating with Republicans to reduce spending.

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