WASHINGTON — President Biden used an event marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday to attack House Republicans as “fiscally demented” and push back on their efforts to rein in IRS hiring — three days before the federal government is expected to hit its borrowing limit.
Biden didn’t directly mention the debt ceiling while addressing attendees of the event hosted by Al Sharpton’s National Action Network — but cast his own fiscal record in the most flattering light ahead of the Jan. 19 debt-ceiling deadline.
“They’re going to talk about big spending Democrats again. Guess what? I reduced the deficit last year $350 billion. And this year, the federal deficit is down $1 trillion-plus. Hear me, that’s a fact,” Biden said.
“There’s gonna be hundreds of billions reduced over the next decade, but so what? These guys are the fiscally — well, they’re fiscally demented, I think. They don’t quite get it.”
Biden also attacked a House-passed bill to ax the proposed hiring of up to 87,000 new IRS agents to help pay for a $437 billion environmental and healthcare spending bill passed last year.
“You know, all these new IRS agents we have is because they fired a lot of them and a lot are retiring. And guess what? Who needs serious agents to know what they’re doing or not doing? The billionaires, the multi-multi-millionaires,” Biden said. “And according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, this one bill alone will add $114 billion to the deficit.”
Rich taxpayers often avoid IRS enforcement because authorities know they can fight back in court. Conservatives say Biden himself could owe up to $500,000 in Medicare taxes on his 2017 and 2018 income. An associate of Hunter Biden, meanwhile, paid the IRS roughly $2 million in back taxes on the first son’s overseas income last year in a desperate attempt to head off criminal charges.
House Republicans are vowing not to agree to raise the national debt ceiling unless that action is coupled with spending reductions, but Democrats thus far are ruling out a compromise, cuing up a potential partial government shutdown.
The national debt was roughly $27.75 trillion when Biden took office, according to the Congressional Research Service. It is about $31.49 trillion today. Although the debt has grown, Biden regularly touts the fact that the federal deficit — or shortfall each year — has declined from a record $3.13 trillion in fiscal 2020 to $2.77 trillion in fiscal 2021 to $1.38 trillion last year.
Fact-checkers note that much of the deficit reduction is because of the end of bipartisan COVID-19 pandemic programs approved in 2020 followed by stimulus spending by Democrats in early 2021, rather than due to Biden’s own actions.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Sunday that the White House should work with Republicans to develop a deal that avoids hitting the debt ceiling, which could lower the US credit rating.
“Let’s sit down together. Let’s look at the places that we can change our behavior. Why would we sit back and be so arrogant to say, ‘No, there’s no waste in government?’” McCarthy told Fox News.
But White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday that “there’s going to be no negotiation over it.”
“It is one of the basic items that Congress has to deal with, and it should be done without condition,” she told reporters.