Senate Finance Committee Chair: Republicans Are Holding the Economy Hostage

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In a statement released yesterday, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden criticized Republicans for threatening to tank the economy in order to get their way on slashing Medicare and Social Security. Wyden accuses Republicans of using extortion tactics to get what they want and holding the U.S. economy hostage in an attempt to force Democrats to make massive cuts to social programs. The statement is as follows:

“Right now the U.S. has the strongest major economy in the world, the lowest unemployment in generations and steadily declining inflation. As of today, Republicans are holding all of that for ransom.

“Republicans are threatening to tank the economy and destroy millions of jobs unless Congress slashes Medicare and Social Security. Either outcome will make life worse and raise costs for millions and millions of Americans.

“The debt ceiling is not about adding new spending. It’s about paying debts that the government owes — debts that were incurred under presidents of both parties. Donald Trump added trillions of dollars to the federal debt even before Congress passed any legislation related to the pandemic, but Republicans didn’t protest back then. Democrats worked with them to raise the debt ceiling on a bipartisan basis. Trump himself even said that nobody should use the debt ceiling as a tool to take political hostages, but that’s exactly what Republicans are doing today with a Democrat in the White House.

“House Republicans are reportedly cooking up a scheme to order the Treasury to prioritize certain payments when its ability to meet the country’s financial obligations runs out later this year. It’s an old, harebrained idea that’s doomed to fail. It will not prevent default or an economic meltdown.

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“The big Republican plan is to write out a list with foreign creditors up near the top and then decide how many American children should go hungry, which Medicare services should be cut off, or what number of people is acceptable to kick out on the street. This is a shocking and appalling way to treat Americans who count on their government for help getting by.

“Republicans won a majority in the House and they’re allowed to advocate for their priorities, but it is unacceptable to take American families and the economy hostage in this way. Democrats will not entertain these threats from Republicans, particularly to Medicare and Social Security. Republicans must stand down on the debt limit immediately.”

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