Public Health

Biden warns of GOP plans to curb access to health care

US President Joe Biden will deliver a blistering criticism of Republican policies at a speech in Virginia Beach on Tuesday afternoon where he will warn of GOP plans to cut access to federal health-care programs.

Speaking at the Kempsville Recreation Center, Biden will point to GOP proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut funding to Medicaid, two programs that nearly 1 in 4 Virginians rely on for coverage.

The speech comes a little over a week before the White House is scheduled to present Biden’s fiscal 2024 budget to Congress and as the White House and House Republicans continue to spar over spending cuts and the debt ceiling.

Republicans have insisted that Biden cut spending as part of a deal to raise the debt limit — a proposition Biden won’t negotiate. While he agrees that federal spending needs to be curtailed, he’s vehemently opposed to tying it to the debt ceiling. Biden met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy at the White House earlier this month to discuss the topic, but no agreements were made.

Lifting the debt limit does not authorize any new spending; it allows the government to borrow more money to cover existing commitments. And since the federal government consistently spends more than it takes in in tax revenue, lawmakers have to periodically raise the debt ceiling. Failing to lift the debt ceiling could lead to a government default on its debt and halt daily operations, causing potential turmoil to markets and the economy.

The Treasury Department already launched a series of extraordinary steps to keep paying the government’s bills, and it expects those measures will be enough to avoid default at least until early June. But if Congress doesn’t raise or suspend the debt limit by then, it could wreak economic havoc around the world.

Biden has asked House Republicans to lay out their own budget proposal with the desired spending cuts before nitpicking at his. In Tuesday’s speech, the president will point to existing GOP proposals to argue that the party ultimately aims to slash those benefits.

Because McCarthy has yet to present a budget proposal, it is unclear how many of the ideas cited by Biden are being actively considered by the House GOP. McCarthy has said cuts to the popular Social Security and Medicare programs are “off the table” in any debt ceiling talks.

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