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Tipsheet

The White House Is Trying Out a New Message on the Debt Limit

AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File

After her briefings earlier this week failed to turn the narrative in President Joe Biden's favor amid the debt ceiling fight — leading to whining from Biden aides about how the mainstream media isn't "framing" the situation in a favorable way for the president — Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tried an entirely new message on Wednesday: "This is a manufactured crisis," she claimed.

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Conveniently, Jean-Pierre did not mention that it was Biden who bears responsibility for creating — manufacturing, if you will — this situation and then bringing the U.S. to the brink of default. It was Biden who refused, for more than two months, to pick up the phone and talk with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy about legislation to raise the debt ceiling. 

On Wednesday, Jean-Pierre insisted again that "the only way to avoid" what Democrats warn would mean "catastrophic impacts" across the country "is for Congress to do its job" and "prevent default." 

It feels like beating a thrice-dead horse at this point, but let's try this again. First, the discretionary spending levels of FY 2022 were set by the Democrat-controlled House and Senate and signed by President Biden himself. Those spending levels were heralded universally by Democrats, but now Jean-Pierre expects Americans and the media to believe that the same spending plan would mean catastrophe.

Second, Speaker McCarthy and the House of Representatives did do their job: they drafted and passed the Limit, Save, Grow Act to raise the debt ceiling, avoid default, and cap discretionary spending at FY 2022 levels. It's worth noting that every Democrat in the House voted against the Limit, Save, Grow Act, meaning that Democrats essentially voted for a default on the nation's debt.

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But facts and reality did not get in the way of Jean-Pierre's briefing room spin, which seems to become less convincing by the day. Insisting repeatedly that debt talks are "productive," Biden's spokeswoman did not have much to back up the White House's position or offer any reassurance that the White House was making any progress toward reaching a deal. "The talks continue," was apparently the best she could come up with. 

Her lackluster explanations and continued attacks against Republicans raised an obvious question from the briefing room: how does the White House think attacking lawmakers across the aisle — for giving kids asthma and exposing Americans to chemicals that "literally melt bones," previously — will help them negotiate with them to find a deal on raising the debt ceiling?

Ah, yes. "The facts...that's all." As Townhall noted yesterday, Jean-Pierre has not been sharing facts, instead peddling partisan talking points that contradict even her own previous statements. But, as with most messages coming from the White House, a "fact" is just whatever Jean-Pierre or Biden says it is.

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With the long Memorial Day Weekend ahead, Karine Jean-Pierre would not say whether Biden would remain in D.C. at the White House until a deal is reached, raising more questions about how involved — or not involved — in negotiations the president really is. 

Again, Jean-Pierre's statement doesn't match with the reality exhibited by the White House. If Biden really can "be the president" wherever he is and need not be at the White House to negotiate a debt plan, why did the president cancel the second half of his international trip last week to rush back to Washington?

Biden has presented himself as generally unconcerned with the debt ceiling for a while now, from wasting valuable months of negotiating time earlier this year to being unwilling to stay at the table over the weekend with just one week left before the earliest predicted default date. 

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Yet somehow, Jean-Pierre continues to insist that Biden has things under control amidst a "manufactured" crisis and its the Republicans — who already passed a bill meeting Biden's demands — who are to blame.

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