Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is calling on Democrats to resist the Republican demand for negotiations over raising the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling, saying it’s just another GOP attempt to slash federal spending while protecting the rich from tax increases.
In an op-ed published by The Boston Globe this weekend, Warren accused Republicans of “running a con game” when it comes to the national debt, which she argues has been driven higher not by excessive spending but by repeated tax cuts that have overwhelmingly benefited the wealthiest Americans.
“For generations, Republicans in Washington have relentlessly driven up the national debt by shoveling tax breaks to the rich,” Warren wrote. “The cumulative impact has been staggering. In the 1950s, corporations paid 6 percent of the cost of running our country; today, that number has fallen to 1 percent. The 2017 Republican tax cuts were the latest blow — a $1.9 trillion giveaway to wealthy individuals and multinational corporations.”
Warren questioned Republicans’ professed concern about the national debt, pointing out that the first bill the GOP House passed would increase deficits by reducing funding for the IRS, even as GOP lawmakers talk about new tax cuts. “It seems that more debt is fine with Republicans in Congress, so long as it profits the wealthy and well-connected,” Warren wrote.
Republicans have used the debt ceiling playbook before, Warren said, creating a showdown in 2011 that had long-lasting effects, including years of lackluster growth under a Democratic president. “After nearly a decade of reckless Bush tax cuts, they manufactured another debt ceiling crisis, which they then leveraged to push through a massive austerity program,” she wrote. “Those GOP budget cuts cost the US economy more than 7 million jobs, delayed our recovery from the Great Recession by years, and helped set the stage for Donald Trump’s election in 2016.”
Reversing course: Warren wants Democrats to flip the script by laying the blame for the increase in the national debt at Republicans’ feet while rejecting their calls for spending cuts in return for raising the debt ceiling. “Here’s the ultimate irony of today’s Republican scam: Without years of Republican handouts to the wealthy, there would be no debt ceiling hostage to take,” she wrote. “If Republicans hadn’t spent nearly $2 trillion on the Trump tax cuts and abetted wealthy tax cheats by starving the IRS for a decade, the United States wouldn’t need to raise the debt ceiling this year. In fact, the current debt ceiling would have sustained federal spending well past the end of President Biden’s first term.”
If Republican tax cuts are responsible for the runup in the debt, then reversing those cuts should be on the table. “Serious conversations about reducing the national debt should start here: Repeal the 2017 Trump tax giveaways to the wealthy,” Warren said. “Let’s close that door before the next $1 trillion slips away.”
Warren also called for closing loopholes in the 15% minimum corporate tax, shutting down tax havens and a tax on billionaire’s wealth – which, taken together, Warren said could raise about $1 trillion in revenue.
“Democrats need to stiffen their spines and say enough is enough,” Warren concludes. “If Republicans actually care about the national debt, they can do what generations of politicians have refused to do — finally agree that billionaires and giant corporations should pitch in just like everyone else.”