REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY would have to commit to “shutting down the government rather than raising the debt ceiling” to gain the backing of his opponents, South Carolina Republican Rep. Ralph Norman told reporters Wednesday afternoon.
“That’s a non-negotiable item,” Norman, a leader of the team opposing McCarthy, a California Republican, becoming House speaker, said. “That’s why you need to be planning now what agencies — what path you’re gonna take now to trim government. Tell the programs you’re going to get to this number. And you do that before chairs are picked,” he said, referring to the process of choosing and installing House committee chairs.
A quirk of the parliamentary process requires Congress to allow spending, then allot funds for those authorized expenditures, and then authorize the Treasury Department to issue debt to pay for the appropriated funds. Although some constitutional academics contend that the debt ceiling is unconstitutional, both parties now regard it as a legal and valid restriction on the government’s authority to issue debt.
If the Treasury defaults on its debt, it might spark a worldwide economic catastrophe since many corporations and foreign governments keep their capital reserves in Treasury notes. If the notes cannot be converted into dollars, payments will not be made, resulting in the collapse of counter-parties who were anticipating those payments, and so on.
The debt limit is projected to be reached this summer. Democrats passed up the opportunity to repeal or raise it during the lame-duck session while they still controlled the House.
Another reporter pointed out to Norman that House Republicans lack the authority to impose spending limits on Democratic President Joe Biden’s White House and a Democratic-controlled Senate, which Norman acknowledged. His Freedom Caucus allies, on the other hand, were willing to use any leverage they had.
“You play the cards you’re dealt,” he said. “Biden’s gonna veto anything. Can we get a two-thirds vote [to override]? Probably not. But it is what it is. If we do what the American people tell us to do, which is to get this country back on track financially, we will get their support. The insane spending cannot keep up.”
The Intercept asked Norman if he thought a potential Speaker Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, whom Norman said he trusts more than McCarthy, would be willing to default on the debt. “No, he would cut things that have to be cut,” Norman said. “Default is only if you keep the spending. We’re going to default eventually if we keep going down this path.”
Asked what specifically McCarthy had done to lose his trust, Norman said, “The 14 years he’s been here when he’s voted for every spending package and this $1.7 trillion omnibus.”