Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday panned Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) proposal to extend the nation’s debt ceiling until May 2024 as a “terrible idea,” making it clear to everyone in Washington that Democrats don’t want to debate the issue again before the next election.
McCarthy formally unveiled his proposal to lift the debt ceiling for one year in exchange for a cap on nondefense discretionary spending and other reforms in a speech Monday to the New York Stock Exchange.
Schumer immediately dismissed McCarthy’s plan as a non-starter and warned, “If Speaker McCarthy continues in this direction, we are headed to default.”
“Amazingly, one of the few specifics [Speaker] McCarthy has presented is his terrible idea to kick the can down the road for just one year and undergo the same crisis again,” Schumer said. “Why would anyone want to undergo this crisis again, again and again?”
Schumer reiterated he and President Biden will sit down to negotiate with McCarthy when he has a detailed plan for cutting spending that can muster 218 votes to pass the House, though he said fiscal reform should be discussed as part of the budget and not legislation to raise the debt ceiling.
“President Biden and I are happy to meet with the Speaker when he has something to talk about — a plan,” he said. “I’m sure most Democratic leaders are willing to meet with him. But we first need to see his plan, so we can start there and work to avoid catastrophic default.”
He dismissed McCarthy’s latest proposals to cut the deficit as “a recycled pile of the same things he’s been saying for months, none of which has moved the ball forward an inch.”
He said any proposed spending cuts, which Democrats would counter with proposals to raise taxes on the wealthy, should be part of a separate budget discussion on spending levels in fiscal 2024 appropriations bills.
“There’s a time to discuss what kind of cuts folks are looking for, what taxes they want to raise. It’s called a budget. It shouldn’t be part of this conversation,” he said. “That kind of discussion, the cuts, belongs in a discussion about the budget, not as a precondition for avoiding default.”
McCarthy’s plan would set discretionary funding at 2022 levels, limit the growth of spending over the next decade to 1 percent of annual growth and not affect Social Security or Medicare.