House GOP leaders seize on S&P shift to call for more cuts

Top House Republicans are using Standard & Poor’s new outlook on U.S. debt to both call for more action from Democrats on deficit reduction and to reiterate their demand that any raising of the debt ceiling be paired with measures that rein in federal spending.

In a Monday statement, Rep. Eric CantorEric CantorEric Cantor offering advice to end ‘immigration wars’ Trump's olive branch differs from the golden eras of bipartisanship After divisive rally, Trump calls for unity MORE (R-Va.), the House majority leader, said S&P — which announced it was revising its outlook on American debt from “stable” to “negative” — had given Washington officials a wake-up call and that Republicans would not sign off on any debt limit increase that was not accompanied by “serious reforms.”

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“For decades, Washington has blindly increased the debt limit while doing little to stop spending money that it doesn’t have, a dangerous pattern that must end,” Cantor said. “As S&P made clear, getting spending and our deficit under control can no longer be put off for another day.”

For his part, Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanRyan: Graham-Cassidy 'best, last chance' to repeal ObamaCare Ryan: Americans want to see Trump talking with Dem leaders Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Wis.), the House Budget Committee chairman, contrasted the fiscal 2012 budget he largely crafted with that of President Obama, while also calling for more concrete action from the White House on deficit reduction.

“The failure to advance solutions threatens not only the livelihoods of future generations, but also the economic security of American families today,” Ryan said in a statement. “The president and his party's leaders must put an end to empty promises and work with us to avert this looming economic crisis.”

The statements from Cantor and Ryan appear to illustrate that the S&P announcement has done little to change the partisan divide in Washington over deficit reduction. 

Also on Monday, Rep. Peter WelchPeter WelchTrump is 'open' to ObamaCare fix, lawmakers say Democrats see ObamaCare leverage in spending fights Group pushes FDA to act on soy milk labeling petition MORE (D-Vt.), who is leading a group of House Democrats calling for a clean debt-ceiling hike, called on Cantor to stop what he termed “playing brinksmanship with the debt ceiling.” The Treasury Department has predicted that the federal government will clear the current ceiling around May 16, and, without congressional action, would start defaulting on its debt in early July. 

Meanwhile, Austan Goolsbee, a top White House economic adviser, came at the S&P announcement from a different angle than Ryan, saying that Republicans and Democrats were not that far off when it came to the size of their long-term budget visions, even if the two sides did have differences over exactly how to rein in deficits.  

The president’s vision, outlined last week, relies on a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. The House GOP budget favors hard spending caps and assumes that all of the Bush tax cuts will be extended. 

Other Republican lawmakers — like Rep. Scott GarrettScott GarrettConservative groups urge Trump to stick with Ex-Im Bank nominee Can the Washington swamp defeat Trump's nominee to run the Export-Import Bank? Overnight Finance: House votes to repeal arbitration rule | Yellen, Cohn on Trump's list for Fed chief | House passes Russia sanctions deal | GOP centrists push back on border wall funding MORE of New Jersey and Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkStale, misguided, divisive: minimum wage can't win elections Immigration critics find their champion in Trump Trump's nominee to lead USAID has the right philosophy on international aid MORE of Illinois — have also issued releases calling for either raising the debt ceiling with conditions or for Democrats to get more serious about deficit reduction.