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Trump endorses debt ceiling default


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Former US president Donald Trump at Trump Turnberry golf course, in South Ayrshire, during his visit to the UK. 

Steve Welsh | Pa Images | Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday urged Republican lawmakers to let the United States default on its debt if Democrats don’t agree to spending cuts.

“I say to the Republicans out there — congressmen, senators — if they don’t give you massive cuts, you’re going to have to do a default,” Trump said. “And I don’t believe they’re going to do a default because I think the Democrats will absolutely cave, will absolutely cave because you don’t want to have that happen. But it’s better than what we’re doing right now because we’re spending money like drunken sailors.”

Read more: Confused about the debt ceiling? Here’s what you need to know

When pushed by CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins to clarify his remarks, Trump said: “Well, you might as well do it now because you’ll do it later because we have to save this country. Our country is dying. Our country is being destroyed by stupid people, by very stupid people.”

Trump, the leading contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, made the remarks during a CNN town hall during which he defended his supporters who staged a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in January 2021 and mocked the writer E. Jean Carroll a day after a jury found him liable for sexually abusing and defaming her.

Trump’s remarks came weeks before the U.S. is projected to run out of cash to pay its bills unless Congress addresses the debt limit. Since January, the U.S. government has taken extraordinary measures to avoid default.

A default would trigger chaos in markets and result in millions of job losses, according to analysts and economists. Republicans voted to raise the debt ceiling three times during Trump’s presidency.

Trump’s words could encourage his many GOP supporters in the House to harden their stance against raising the debt limit without corresponding spending cuts. Biden has said he won’t negotiate over raising the debt limit, although he said he is open to discussing ways to reduce spending in a separate context.

Biden and the top four congressional leaders, including Trump supporter House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., will meet again to discuss the debt ceiling on Friday. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the U.S. government could hit the debt limit as soon as June 1.

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