newswarner kaine blast house republicans on irresponsible debt ceiling brinksmanship

Warner, Kaine blast House Republicans on ‘irresponsible’ debt-ceiling brinksmanship

Chris Graham
congress money
(© ozerkina –

House Republicans, trying to pretend to be serious about government spending, after four years of spending like drunken sailors at the direction of Donald Trump, are threatening to have the U.S. government default on its debts if Democrats don’t agree to spending cuts that they haven’t exactly spelled out.

They only do this, by the way, when a Democrat is in the White House.

Republicans didn’t balk in the Trump years when the national debt soared by nearly $8 trillion – more than 25 percent of the debt that the government has run up in its 234-year history – voting three times, without batting an eye, to raise the debt ceiling.

Yeah, they’re hypocrites.

Virginia’s two U.S. senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both Democrats, both former Virginia governors, are calling them out.

“There are some in the House of Representatives who have said they want to hold hostage the United States paying its bills. Remember, this debate about the so-called debt ceiling is really about whether the United States is going to default. The debt ceiling has nothing to do with money that’s already been spent. This is the money we’ve spent. Are we going to actually pay those bills?” Warner said this week.

If you listen to Sixth District Republican Congressman Ben Cline, no, we’re not going to pay those bills.

“President Biden and the Deficit-Loving D.C. Democrats’ inflationary spending has worked to increase our national debt to unsustainable levels – over $31.6 trillion in debt and an annual deficit of nearly $1.5 trillion,” Cline said last month, in an appropriately bombastic statement.

Ahem, Trump’s last two budgets, in fiscal years 2020 and 2021, ran at deficits of $3.13 trillion and $2.77 trillion.

“While Biden has no plan to avoid debt default, House Republicans are committed to a reasonable, responsible, and sensible solution to our nation’s debt crisis that would limit Washington’s irresponsible spending, save taxpayer dollars, and grow the American economy. It’s time Democrats finally do their job and come to the negotiating table,” Cline said.

Thing is, Republicans haven’t offered much in terms of specifics on what they’re interested in negotiating. The thrust of the budget bill they passed in the House last month is to limit spending increases to 1 percent per year, without saying how they would get there.

The rest is just ugly politics: cutting $70 billion in funding for the IRS, because you know how billionaire Republicans hate having to pay their taxes, and turning the screws on people who receive food stamps and have student-loan debt.

This is what they’re threatening default over.

Basically, nothing, other than winning the day on Fox News, and screwing people over.

“The threat that some members are making, that they would just assume see America default, and the Treasury Secretary has indicated that could happen as early as the beginning of June, is the height of irresponsibility, that would have a huge impact on Virginia families,” Warner said. “It would send your interest rates soaring, it would affect your mortgage, it would affect your credit card debt, it would affect your student loan debt, it would cost, experts have estimated, about 750,000 jobs, it would send our economy maybe not only into recession, but potentially even worse. And from a geopolitical standpoint, it would be a pure gift to Vladimir Putin, to the Communist Party of China and Xi Jinping, in terms of showing remarkable weakness in America at a critical point in time and in the overall geopolitical areas.”

Warner told reporters in a conference call this week that he hopes “cooler heads will prevail,” but you know he knows that won’t happen.

“I’m more than anxious to have a debate about the budget and spending and priorities. I’m also happy to have a debate about revenues and how we can make our tax code fairer and actually collect a bit more revenues from those of us who’ve really benefit from the system. But that ought to be done through the normal appropriations process,” Warner said.

That’s where Kaine is on this dumb bout of politics.

“I have spending issues I care about, I have revenue issues I care about, but I never threaten the full faith and credit of the United States, because that shouldn’t be done,” Kaine said. “The 14th Amendment of the Constitution says it shouldn’t be done. We take an oath to uphold that Constitution. And it’s been sad that during my 10 years now in the Senate, one side continually has decided to use debt ceiling deadlines as kind of a leverage exercise where they’ve threatened default, threatened brinksmanship, frightened people, to gain their way.”

The lack of specifics in the House Republican spending plan, if you can even call it a spending plan, makes it almost impossible to negotiate.

“The plan that they passed recently didn’t really show the math,” Kaine said. “It suggested that they would do kind of across-the-board cuts in many parts of government without showing exactly what they would cut. They should produce an appropriations bill with the cuts that they want. The Senate, we have to produce an appropriations bill as well. Unlike theirs, ours has to be somewhat bipartisan, because we need 60 votes to pass appropriations bills in the Senate. In the House, they can do it on a simple majority. But once each side passes their appropriations bills, and they would likely look quite a bit different, they just sit down in a conference table, and you have the discussion, and you hammer it out.”

That’s what a rational political party would do.

The Marjorie Taylor Greene-led Republican Party is anything but rational.

“The threat that we’ll default the government, the full faith and credit of the United States, for the first time in the history of the country, unless you admit right now that we get our way, it’s just bad faith,” Kaine said. “And again, I have priorities, including spending and revenue priorities that are every bit as important to me, as some of the House priorities are important to them. But I would never threaten default, as my Republican colleagues, many of them, seem to want to do so.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris has won 17 Virginia Press Association awards for his work as an investigative reporter, feature writer and columnist. Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, both published in 2019, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, Want to reach Chris? Try [email protected].