Democrats are lashing out at President Joe Biden for not being a strong enough leader in the face of the debt ceiling crisis.
Democratic lawmakers are frustrated that Biden is allowing House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to shape the narrative about the negotiations, essentially allowing Republicans to win in the court of public opinion, as evidenced by polling.
Politico spoke with several Democrats who complained about Biden's strategy:
- A House Democrat speaking anonymously: "It's time to bring the president off the bench, or bring somebody off the bench. No one's responding to anything. Kevin's consistently on message. ... We have the Oval Office. I've never seen anything like it."
- A "Biden ally": "The whole apparatus is not pushing back. Our side is just flat-footed."
- Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.): "They need to use the power of the presidency. I don’t buy this argument that [public silence] helps the negotiation."
If Biden is going to speak publicly, it probably won't happen this weekend. He is leaving for Camp David on Friday and will travel to his home in Wilmington, Delaware, on Sunday. The plans led to more outrage among Democrats.
"Please tell me that’s not true," a House Democrat told a Politico reporter when informed about Biden's plans. "You’re going to see a caucus that’s so pissed if he's stupid enough to do that."
Meanwhile, other Democrats, like Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), are ratcheting up their rhetoric, even calling Republicans "terrorists."
"I'm very frustrated," Bowman said on Thursday. "I called on the president to invoke the 14th Amendment, and mint a coin, and do not negotiate with hostage-takers. I mean, we don't negotiate with terrorists globally, why are we gonna negotiate with the economic terrorists here that are the Republican Party?"
Other Democrats have accepted defeat.
"Democrats know they will have to eat a turd sandwich, the Republicans will have to put some Nutella spread on it first," one House Democrat told Axios.
The problem for Democrats is that a majority of Americans agree that Congress should cut at least some government spending if they raise the debt ceiling. That makes Democrats' position — not to cut spending — untenable and puts Republicans in a good negotiating spot.
McCarthy said Friday that negotiators are making progress on a deal. It's likely, then, that a deal will be reached before the deadline sometime early next month.
In the end, both sides will make concessions, and it will be back to business as usual in Washington: kicking the $31 trillion debt can down the road for future generations of Americans to confront.
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