President Biden on Thursday said he was ready to meet again with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as soon as he makes public GOP priorities for the budget after Biden released his proposal for next fiscal year.
“The fact is, the Speaker of the House is a very conservative guy and he has an even more conservative group with him,” Biden said at a union hall in Philadelphia. “But, he and I met early on. He said, ‘What are we going to do about the budget?’ I said let’s make a deal, let’s meet. I’m going to introduce my budget on the 9th of March, you introduce yours, we’ll sit down and go line-by-line.”
“I want to make it clear: I’m ready to meet with the Speaker anytime — tomorrow if he has his budget,” Biden continued. “Lay it down, tell me what you want to do. I’ll show you what I want to do. See what we can agree on, what we don’t agree on.”
Biden called on McCarthy to release a budget proposal hours after the White House put out its own document for fiscal 2024.
The White House budget proposes to increase the tax rate on billionaires and corporations and fund Medicare to extend its solvency by at least 25 years. It also calls for funds for a wish list of policies such as restoring the Child Tax Credit, making permanent tax credits related to the Affordable Care Act and providing national paid leave.
McCarthy quickly dismissed the proposal as “unserious.”
“He proposes trillions in new taxes that you and your family will pay directly or through higher costs,” McCarthy tweeted. “Mr. President: Washington has a spending problem, NOT a revenue problem.”
The White House’s $6.8 trillion proposal will not be enacted into law, but it will serve as a starting point for debates on spending as the White House and Congress head toward a debt ceiling fight later this year.
Biden hosted McCarthy at the White House in February for a discussion focused on the debt ceiling. Congress must agree to raise the debt ceiling, likely by June, or the U.S. will default on its debts and potentially send the economy spiraling.
While McCarthy left that meeting expressing optimism about talks, the Speaker said this week he was still waiting to hear back from the White House about a follow up discussion.
The president before that meeting called on House Republicans to release a public budget proposal of their own. Biden and other White House officials have argued that without a transparent budget, the public cannot know whether House Republicans want to cut Social Security, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and other social safety net programs that millions of Americans rely on. McCarthy has indicated such cuts would be “off the table.”
Biden has been adamant that he will not allow Republicans to use cuts to programs like Medicare and Social Security as leverage or conditions for raising the debt ceiling. On Thursday, he noted that during his State of the Union address last month several Republicans vehemently protested when he suggested they supported cutting entitlement programs.
“If MAGA Republicans are using the threat of default for the first time in history, they’re risking America’s health and security; it’s dangerous,” Biden said.