Elizabeth Warren says Republicans are 'running a con game' with the debt ceiling, and repealing Trump's tax breaks for the wealthy should come first

Elizabeth Warren says Republicans are 'running a con game' with the debt ceiling, and repealing Trump's tax breaks for the wealthy should come first
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) arrives for a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee on Russian sanctions, on Capitol Hill, September 20, 2022 in Washington, DC.Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
  • In an op-ed for the Boston Globe, Sen. Elizabeth Warren took aim at the GOP's position on the national debt.
  • Republicans want to cut spending on things like Social Security before raising the debt ceiling.

The US has hit the debt ceiling, and the country is careening closer towards a financial crisis as Republicans threaten to bring the country to default over social spending. But Senator Elizabeth Warren thinks that it's time to take a look at rolling back tax cuts on the wealthy.

In an op-ed for the Boston Globe, Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, wrote that "Republicans don't really care about the national debt." Instead, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — who had to weather 15 long votes to finally get his hands on the gavel — is "running a con game" alongside "extremist Republicans."

"They claim their plan to use the debt ceiling to trigger global economic chaos is about fiscal responsibility. It's not," Warren wrote. "The House Republican plan for the debt ceiling is about protecting the wealthy and the well-connected from paying their fair share in taxes — nothing more and nothing less."

Instead, before eyeing cuts to programs like Social Security and Medicare to bring down the national debt, Warren said that lawmakers should first roll back 2017 Trump tax cuts for the wealthy.

"Let's close that door before the next $1 trillion slips away," Warren wrote.


Republicans have been lowering taxes on America's highest-earners and corporations for decades, Warren writes, and that has "relentlessly driven up the national debt." Republicans are still taking aim at taxes in their first economic proposals as a House majority. Their proposal to revoke $80 billion in funding for the IRS would actually worsen the country's debt load, adding over $100 billion to the deficit over the next decade.

The US officially hit the debt limit last week, and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told House Republicans in a letter that she would start employing "extraordinary measures" to keep the US on top of paying its bills. Those measures are likely to run out at some point this summer, and Republicans have until then to raise the debt ceiling and keep the US out of default.

As Insider previously reported, defaulting on the nation's debt or other fiscal obligations like Social Security payments and military paychecks would be unprecedented — and economically catastrophic. President Joe Biden and Democratic lawmakers have been adamant that raising the debt ceiling should not be used as a bargaining chip, but it appears the GOP is intent on using the limit as leverage to achieve their own priorities, like spending cuts for programs like Medicare and Social Security.

As Warren said in her opinion piece, Republicans' goal is "government help for their rich donors and economic pain for everyone else" — and should the US default, Americans would quickly experience pain. Monthly checks that many rely on, like Social Security, would be withheld, and a debt default would likely trigger a global financial crisis and deep worldwide recession.

Still, Republicans have been intent on using the debt limit as an opportunity to help their own party. McCarthy told Fox News last week that "what I really think we would do is treat this like we would treat our own household."


"If you had a child, you gave them a credit card, and they kept hitting the limit, you wouldn't just keep increasing it," he said. "You'd first see what are you spending your money on? How can we cut items out?"

Importantly, though, raising the debt limit does not authorize new spending — it accounts for past obligations the government already signed off on. Warren criticized McCarthy's stance on Twitter last week, calling it "the dumbest analogy I've ever heard."

"Raising the debt ceiling would not authorize new spending," she wrote. "It would let the U.S. pay the bills that Kevin McCarthy and Donald Trump ALREADY ran up with tax breaks for billionaires and giant corporations."