Mr. President, the choice is yours: Do whatever is necessary to resolve the debt limit crisis
Op/Eds, U.S. & World

Mr. President, the choice is yours: Do whatever is necessary to resolve the debt limit crisis

joe biden
(© lev radin – Shutterstock)

Dear President Biden:

I congratulate and support you on your decision to run for re-election. The legislation and policies you have implemented are already strengthening the country economically, environmentally, and morally.

However, the extremist MAGA Republicans controlling the House of Representatives are threatening to dismantle the progress that you and the Democratic-led Congress of 2021-22 have accomplished. If they don’t get their way, they’re willing to destroy the U.S. and global economies by forcing the federal government to default on its debt obligations.

Now is the time for you to show the same steadfast leadership that saved our economy, by acting decisively to end this madness. This situation demands that you use every means at your disposal, including invoking Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, if necessary, to prevent default. That section reads, in part, “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law… shall not be questioned.”

The House Republicans’ proposed “budget” is extortion, holding the government and the public well-being hostage to their extreme demands. We agree with you that presenting such a budget while threatening default is not a negotiation, but an act of war against the American people. For example:

  • In their analysis of the Republicans’ bill, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities(CBPP) found that it would have devastating impacts on Medicaid recipients, putting more than 10 million low-income Americans at risk of losing their health coverage. It would also impose even stricter work requirements on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients — the majority of whom already work. “Under the bill, people unable to document employment could lose both SNAP and Medicaid,” according to the CBPP analysis.
  • Although Speaker McCarthy assured Americans that Social Security was “off the table,” his plan would slash funding for the Social Security Administration, leading to closed field offices, shorter hours, and longer wait times for people applying for benefits.
  • The Republicans also want to cut all non-defense spending by turning back the clock to Fiscal 2022 levels and limiting future annual growth to one percent for the next 10 years. This would be in exchange for extending the debt ceiling for only one year. CBPP’s report states,

“Cutting a broad swath of public services — from schools, childcare, and public health to environmental protection and college aid — and making it harder for people to afford the basics while permitting more tax cheating and cutting taxes for the wealthy is failed trickle-down economics at its worst…. This agenda would narrow opportunity, deepen inequality, and increase hardship.”

  • Their plan would also repeal or defund most of the environmental policies of the Inflation Reduction Act, gutting the most comprehensive climate legislation enacted by any country on Earth, and likely ensuring that humanity will face a widely unlivable planet in this century.

These and other measures would inflict pain, suffering — even death — on those vulnerable Americans least able to defend themselves: the young, the elderly and infirm, and the poor. The cruelty inherent in many of the Trump administration policies was their point.

The so-called Party of Lincoln is now truly the party of Simon Legree. Meanwhile, the trillions in tax cuts already given by Trump to the nation’s wealthiest would remain, and the IRS would be unable to track down the worst tax cheats among them.

Mr. President, the choice is yours: Do whatever is necessary to resolve the debt limit crisis, including invoking the 14th Amendment if necessary, and cut short the prolonged agony of a possible debt default with all its calamitous consequences — or see the MAGA extremists impose their inhumane will on the American people for the next decade or more.

Michael Dover is a steering committee member of Indivisible Northampton–Swing Left Western Massachusetts.