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Tim Kaine on GOP’s debt-ceiling game of chicken: It’s ‘just about basic accountability’

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The game of chicken being played by Republicans over the debt ceiling is “just about basic accountability,” U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine said on Wednesday

“It’s not the president’s budget, it’s Congress’s. We should adjust the debt ceiling to the level necessary to cover the actions that we’ve taken,” said Kaine, addressing the ongoing push from Republicans to use the debt-ceiling matter to force spending cuts from Democrats and President Biden.

Republicans voted three times without controversy during Donald Trump’s presidency to raise the debt ceiling as the Trump administration ran up the national debt by nearly $8 trillion in his four years in office.

But now the GOP is saying, as it did twice in the Obama years, that the president needs to “come to the table,” to use the phrasing of Sixth District Congressman Ben Cline, at a meeting with constituents in Staunton on Wednesday, to address federal spending.

“President Biden and the Deficit-Loving D.C. Democrats’ inflationary spending has worked to increase our national debt to unsustainable levels – $31.6 trillion in debt and an annual deficit of nearly $1.5 trillion,” Cline said in an April 26 statement on the House Republican debt-ceiling bill, which passed by a narrow 217-213 majority.

What he didn’t say there: Trump’s last two budgets, in fiscal years 2020 and 2021, ran at deficits of $3.13 trillion and $2.77 trillion, and more than a quarter of our 234-year-old nation’s debt came from Trump’s single four-year term as president.

Kaine, speaking with reporters on Wednesday, noted that “Democrats never flirt with the debt ceiling because we don’t want to flirt with default.”

“We think that the U.S. is the strongest economy in the world, and no one should ever question the full faith and credit of the U.S., or question whether Congress will honor our obligations,” Kaine said.

Biden has said that he will not negotiate with Republicans until the debt-ceiling issue is resolved. Kaine has his back on that.

“Republicans in the House want spending cuts, great, if they want spending cuts, there is an avenue for that, and that’s the annual budget discussion, which is a discussion we get to traditionally toward the end of the year,” Kaine said. “The House can pass a budget with big spending cuts, the Senate might pass a different budget, then we sit at a table and find a compromise. That’s what we do every year.

“They have enormous leverage in this with a Republican majority in the House. Why they want to threaten default if they don’t get their way in the budget discussion six months from now is beyond me,” Kaine said. “I would just urge them to drop it, let’s raise the debt ceiling, and then let’s get into a very vigorous debate about what the nation’s budget should be, where the House can lay out their priorities, and we in the Senate lay out ours.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the king of "fringe media," is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].