Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has called on Republican and Democrat lawmakers to work together and resolve the debt crisis facing the United States, pointing out that both Trump and Biden have contributed to ballooning the country’s debt.
America’s debt has hit the $31.4 trillion ceiling and it now needs to be raised, which requires lawmakers from both parties to negotiate a deal. However, Democrats and Republicans have been at an impasse, a situation Manchin criticized in his speech at the Senate chamber on March 2.
“My Democratic friends don’t want to say a word about our out-of-control spending and outright refusing to even talk to republicans about reasonable and responsible reforms. All we hear is about we have to have a clean debt ceiling … We have to pay [for] our sins of the past but can’t we at least sit down and discuss, just discuss how did we get here so fast?” Manchin said.
“My Republican friends refuse to offer any specifics and some have threatened default which is absolutely not on the table, cannot be on the table, and will not happen. I can assure you. We’ll never solve the problems by each party running in opposite directions and we’ll only be able to change course by coming together, embracing common sense, and finding common ground.”
Manchin said that the United States government added an estimated $7.5 trillion to projected debt levels during the four years under the Trump administration, including $4 trillion not directly related to COVID.
Under President Joe Biden, more than $5 trillion has already been added to the projected debt levels, including over $2.5 trillion unrelated to the pandemic, he said. “So, whoever you want to blame, we’re all at fault.”
Massive US Debt
At the Senate chamber, Manchin pointed out that federal spending in 2013 was less than $3.5 trillion. But today, it has ballooned to $6.2 trillion. “In ten short years, less than ten. That’s an 80 percent increase,” Manchin stated.
The total revenue for 2022 was only $4.9 trillion, with the country registering a deficit of $1.4 trillion, he pointed out. For every single year in the past 21 years, “we’ve been spending more than we bring in in our government … And the debt that has resulted is absolutely crippling.”
At $31.4 trillion, the U.S. public debt is equivalent to $94,000 in debt for every single American citizen. In 2023 alone, over $600 billion will be spent “just on basically servicing the debt of the nation.”
“All you can do is pay the interest. You can’t even touch the principal because you’re barely able to pay the interest. But think about this. Just the interest on our debt is more than $5,000 per household in America,” Manchin said.
“If we continue down the path that we’re on, we will have accumulated by 2050 nearly $130 trillion of public debt. We’re $31.46 trillion right now. Just to service the interest on the debt will be $5 trillion a year.”
The Democrat senator asked President Biden and Congress to “do their jobs right now, no exceptions or excuses.”
“What I’m going to be telling now is something we’ve not practiced since I’ve been here for 12 years. We need to pass a budget on time. Pass a budget on time. That’s by September 30. The president is already a month behind schedule when he submits his budget next week. It was due on February 6.”
By April 1, the Senate Budget Committee needs to report their budget resolution. By April 15, the House and Senate must reconcile differences with regard to their budgets. And by September 30, all spending bills must be approved, Manchin said while laying out the timeline.
“If we don’t pass a budget, we as the elected leaders from the president all the way down, we shouldn’t get paid, period. Think about this. The American workers, they don’t get paid if they don’t get their job done. They don’t get paid if they don’t work. And neither should any of us,” he said.
“The continued weaponization of the debt and deficit and the political games we all play need to stop. They need to stop.”
The current debt ceiling of $31.4 trillion was set by Congress in 2022. That limit would have been breached on Jan. 19. But the Treasury took “extraordinary measures” to keep the nation solvent until June.
Phillip Swagel, director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has warned that the government’s ability to borrow using “extraordinary measures” will be exhausted between July and September if the debt limit remains unchanged.
During his State of the Union address on Feb. 7, President Biden asked the 118th Congress to raise the debt limit with no preconditions. A day earlier, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that he only supports a “responsible” increase in the debt ceiling.