US debt ceiling debate plays into the hands of Putin and Xi

Let’s start by dispelling a myth. The debt ceiling debate is not about authorizing new spending. It’s about Congress paying debts it has already incurred.



April 24, 2023 - 3:03 PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and China's President Xi Jinping toast during a reception following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21, 2023. (Pavel Byrkin/SPUTNIK/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy is making a ransom demand. His hostage is the economy and America’s credibility. Mr. McCarthy has threatened that House Republicans will refuse to raise the federal government’s debt ceiling, potentially triggering a global financial crisis, unless President Biden agrees to deep cuts to education, health care, food assistance for poor children and other services.

Mr. McCarthy repeatedly invoked the threat of Chinese competition as justification. The speaker is right that this debate has significant national security implications — just not the way he says.

With Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine grinding into a second year, tensions with China continuing to rise and global threats looming, from future pandemics to climate change, the world is looking to the United States for strong, steady leadership. Congressional brinkmanship on the debt ceiling sends the opposite message to our allies and our adversaries: that America is divided, distracted and can’t be counted on.