Saunders: Debt limit agreement shows ‘President Biden puts working people first’

AFSCME President Lee Saunders praised President Joe Biden in the wake of a debt ceiling deal that averts a default by the U.S. government on its debt while protecting the interests and priorities of working families and retirees.

Biden signed the deal into law on Saturday.

“Neither side got everything it wanted in this agreement, but it shows once again that President Biden puts working people first, while extremists on the other side are willing to gamble away our futures,” Saunders said in a press statement Saturday.

The consequences of the United States defaulting on its debt obligations would likely have been catastrophic and long-lasting, according to economists from across the political spectrum.

In his first Oval Office address to the nation Friday, President Biden underscored this point, saying of a debt default that “nothing would have been more irresponsible. Nothing would have been more catastrophic.”

Biden praised the bipartisanship that made the deal possible.

“The only way American democracy can function is through compromise and consensus,” he said. Later, he said of the deal, “No one got everything they wanted, but the American people got what they needed.”

The final vote on the deal was 314-117 in the House of Representatives and 63-36 in the Senate. But the numbers don’t reflect the reality that far-right members of Congress put our country’s well-being on the line.

“Once again, extremists in Congress pushed our economy to the brink,” Saunders said in a press release Wednesday after the deal was struck. “If we had gone over this financial cliff, our government would have defaulted for the first time in American history, causing a deep recession, the loss of countless jobs and devastating cuts to the public services we all rely on. … All so Republican congressional hard-liners could protect their billionaire donors from paying their fair share of taxes.”

In addition to suspending the debt limit until January 2025 – thus allowing the government to borrow more money to pay its debts – the law is expected to trim the deficit by $1.5 trillion over a decade. It holds the line on new spending, and includes new work requirements for government benefits and new measures to get energy projects approved more quickly. It also protects Social Security, Medicare, veterans’ benefits, and investments in infrastructure and clean energy.