Biden and McCarthy Are Set to Discuss Debt Limit as Both Sides Trade Barbs

Both sides have sought to frame the discussion in favorable terms. Republicans have assailed Democrats for runaway spending, pointing to the stimulus package that Mr. Biden signed into law. They blame that spending for fueling rapid inflation last year, though price increases have since eased. Republican lawmakers say current federal debt levels are unsustainable and risk undercutting economic growth.

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Mr. Biden has said frequently that he is willing to reduce deficits by raising taxes on high earners and corporations — moves Republicans oppose. The president and his aides have tried to push Republicans into detailing specific parts of the federal budget they want to cut, betting on a voter backlash to any proposals that touch popular programs like government health care, education and retirement spending.

“Any serious conversation about economic and fiscal policy needs to start with a clear understanding of the participants’ goals and proposals,” Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council, and Shalanda Young, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a memo on Tuesday.

Mr. McCarthy is expected to gather his Republican colleagues in a room beneath the Capitol on Wednesday morning to discuss the negotiations and identify red lines for raising the debt ceiling.

“As you can imagine, there are different factions within our party that have different ideas, and we’re trying to come together to see what that might look like over the next couple of weeks and months,” said Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina. “It’s a conversation that we need to have. You have to have a plan. And I don’t know what that looks like yet, but that’s part of our process, having these meetings, debates and discussions, and mapping that out.”

Those meetings — termed “listening sessions” by Mr. McCarthy — were a key part of his strategy in 2011, when he needed to persuade unyielding conservative lawmakers swept into power by the Tea Party movement to vote to raise the debt ceiling.

In his Capitol office, Mr. McCarthy, then the majority whip, gently nudged holdouts into naming concessions from the Obama administration that would be substantial enough to pave the way for them to vote for a debt limit deal.


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