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Republicans Lie That It’s Democrats’ — Not Trump’s — Debts That Need to Be Paid

The current debt ceiling raise would cover debts incurred by Trump, though Republicans aren’t admitting it.

Sen. Ted Cruz speaks during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on September 14, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

As Democrats scramble to raise the debt ceiling before the U.S. defaults, Republicans like Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) have been misleading the public about who incurred the debts in the first place. More and more transparently, the GOP is revealing that their goal is to cause financial disaster — and to blame it on Democrats.

Republicans are planning to block yet another Democratic attempt to raise the debt ceiling on Wednesday. Over the past few weeks, they’ve left Democrats with few options for avoiding a default, which has led President Joe Biden to suggest that his party’s leaders carve out a filibuster exception just for the debt limit.

Even though a debt default could spell financial chaos for the country, potentially sapping trillions of dollars of household wealth from American families, Republicans have refused to budge — and even though the debts that need to be paid were incurred during the Trump administration, they are claiming the debt is the Democrats’ fault for wanting to pass their widely popular social and climate spending plan.

“They basically want us to be aiders and abettors to their reckless spending and tax policies, and we just aren’t going to do it,” Cornyn told The Washington Post this week.

The debt ceiling has nothing to do with the Democratic agenda and everything to do with Donald Trump’s policies — particularly the 2017 tax reform plan, in which Republicans gifted massive tax breaks to corporations and the rich with no plan to fill in the deficit that would create. Trump built up nearly $8 trillion in debt over just four years, which economists say will take years to pay off.

Cruz also lied about the Democrats’ responsibility for the debt last month on Fox, claiming that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) “doesn’t want to raise the debt ceiling using Democrats because he wants to rack up trillions in new spending, trillions in new taxes, and he wants to shift political blame…. He wants to get 10 Republicans to vote for the Democrats’ massively irresponsible spending,” in order to bypass the filibuster on the debt ceiling. The Texas senator has been dead set on blocking attempts to raise the debt ceiling over the past few weeks, hinging his opposition on this misleading claim.

The debt ceiling raise has nothing to do with the Democrats’ reconciliation bill, which is fully funded by moderate tax increases on corporations and the wealthy. However, the GOP is trying its hardest to tie the two things together.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and other Republican lawmakers have been demanding that Democrats raise the debt ceiling through the reconciliation bill, in aims of weakening or sinking the reconciliation bill altogether. Democrats have refused to pass the debt ceiling through reconciliation, saying that it would take too long to avoid a default and that there are other options for resolving the issue.

Republicans have yet to stray from this strategy, even as the default date grows closer– and they’ve shown callous indifference to the fact that their obstruction has the potential to spell economic disaster. If a debt default happens because of their demands, “then too bad,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota) told The Washington Post. “It’s just really, really unfortunate that [Democrats are] that irresponsible.”

The GOP is also reluctant to support a filibuster carveout for the debt ceiling. McConnell said that he “can’t imagine” doing that if he were in charge. After Biden suggested the filibuster carveout on Wednesday, McConnell told Senate Republicans that he is planning to offer a temporary debt ceiling extension or an expedited reconciliation process instead.

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