By Emel Akan
Hiroshima, JAPAN—President Joe Biden took aim at Republicans, claiming that he had done his part in debt ceiling negotiations and that it was now up to them to “move from their extreme positions.”
During a press conference held after the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in Hiroshima, Biden stated that he would shortly speak with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, although he admitted that their proposal was unacceptable.
“Now it’s time for the other side to move from their extreme positions, because much of what they’ve already proposed is simply, quite frankly, unacceptable,” Biden told reporters.
“And it’s time for Republicans to accept that there is no bipartisan deal to be made solely on their partisan terms.”
Biden’s remarks came after McCarthy accused the White House of backtracking on debt-limit talks, telling reporters that no progress would be made until Biden returns from his G-7 trip.
Biden attended the G-7 summit on May 19–21 in Hiroshima, Japan, becoming the second sitting U.S. president to visit one of the two Japanese cities devastated by U.S. atomic bombs in 1945.
During the summit, the debt ceiling debate between the White House and GOP heated up, casting a shadow over Biden’s G-7 meetings. The talks between negotiators came to a halt as both sides failed to reach an agreement on Friday evening.
“The White House is moving backward in negotiations,” McCarthy wrote on Twitter. “Unfortunately, the socialist wing of the Democrat Party appears to be in control—especially with President Biden out of the country.”
As negotiations stalled, McCarthy reportedly requested a call with the president. The speaker has accused Biden of refusing to cooperate on spending cuts.
“President Biden doesn’t think there is a single dollar of savings to be found in the federal government’s budget,” he wrote in another tweet on Saturday.
“He’d rather be the first president in history to default on the debt than to risk upsetting the radical socialists who are calling the shots for Democrats right now.”
‘A Big Step Back’
In response to McCarthy, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre issued a statement from Hiroshima, repeating the president’s call for a “reasonable bipartisan budget agreement.”
“Last night in D.C., the Speaker’s team put on the table an offer that was a big step back and contained a set of extreme partisan demands that could never pass both Houses of Congress,” Jean-Pierre said.
Biden indicated that after his phone discussion with McCarthy, negotiators from both sides would begin talks.
“The speaker and I’ll be talking later on the plane as we head back,” Biden said. “And our teams are going to continue working.”
“I’m willing to cut spending, and I proposed cuts in spending of over a trillion dollars,” Biden explained.
“But I believe we have to also look at the tax revenues,” he said, adding that Republicans want to maintain Trump’s $2 trillion tax cuts, which hurt the economy.
“There are a lot of things that they refuse to entertain, and they just said revenue is off the table. … We continue to have a significant disagreement on the revenue side.”
Biden also accused “MAGA Republicans” of holding debt hostage and intending to harm the economy in order to prevent him from getting re-elected in 2024.
The United States may be unable to pay its bills as early as June 1, sending shockwaves throughout the global economy. Republicans and Democrats are attempting to reach an agreement on the country’s debt ceiling before the deadline.
Republicans are advocating for substantial and longer-term spending reductions, arguing the nation’s deficit spending needs to roll back to fiscal year 2022 levels and restrict the growth of government spending. The White House, however, strongly opposes the Republican plan, seeing them as potentially harmful to veterans’ care, public safety, education, and other programs.
Biden addressed U.S. debt limit concerns at the G-7 Summit in Hiroshima, seeking to assure world leaders of his capability to handle negotiations and prevent a default on the U.S. debt.
Biden expressed confidence on May 20 that the White House and House Republicans would reach a deal when he took questions from reporters during a bilateral meeting with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
“I still believe we can avoid a default,” he said, adding that he was “not at all” worried about the negotiations.
At a separate press briefing in Hiroshima on May 20, one of two Japanese cities devastated by U.S. atomic bombs in 1945, national security advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters that the debt limit negotiations between the White House and House Republicans are “definitely a subject of interest here at the G-7.”
“You know, countries want to have a sense of how these negotiations are going to play out,” he said.
Sullivan sought to provide assurances that the looming threat of the United States defaulting on its $31 trillion worth of debts for the first time in U.S. history “is not generating alarm” at the G-7 talks.
“I would just say countries are keenly interested in what is a significant story, and the president has been able to tell them that he believes that we can get to a good result here,” Sullivan said.