Coons: Default would confirm Chinese leader’s assessment that US political system is broken

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) on Saturday said default would confirm Chinese President Xi Jinping’s assessment of a broken U.S. political system, as the White House and Congress negotiate over the debt ceiling amid the possibility of default. 

“The single worst thing we could do is default. It would confirm Xi Jinping’s assessment that we have a flawed and broken political system, that we can’t solve our most basic challenges, and it would weaken us in the eyes of the rest of the world,” Coons said on MSNBC’s “Velshi.”

“So why would default be bad?” he asked. “It would hurt every American at home and abroad.”

The clock is ticking on the issue, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned her department could run out of measures to prevent a default by as early as June 1.

A default would “cost 8 million jobs, throw our economy into a recession and impact our standing in the world,” Coons said on MSNBC. “Just this week, on that Appropriations Committee where I serve, we had the secretary of Defense, secretary of State, secretary of Commerce in front of our full committee debating what we should be doing to make America stronger in the face of the Chinese threat.”

President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have met for negotiations on the debt ceiling, but while the White House wants a clean borrowing limit increase, House Republicans are pushing for an increase tied to spending cuts. Biden is reportedly considering using the 14th Amendment to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling, without Congress.

“It’s as serious as it is because the United States benefits from the fact, that for the rest of the world, investing in our Treasury instruments, in the borrowing done by the U.S. government, by our Treasury Department, is viewed as the safest place to put their money, not just in the United States, but for the rest of the world,” Coons said Saturday. 

The senator stressed that Yellen and other economic sector leaders have predicted significant consequences if the nation defaults on its debt, and urged McCarthy to “take default off the table.” 

“Several times over the last decade, we’ve had a federal government shutdown when we can’t come to an agreement between the parties. That’s bad enough to have the federal government shut down. …  but it’s not catastrophic. Default would be catastrophic,” he added. 

“I’m worried that if we don’t have a reasonable, responsible deal on the table and able to begin voting this coming week, that we’re going to miss this window and we’re going to default.” 

–Updated at 8:06 a.m.

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