Donald Trump said Wednesday night Republicans should force the US government to default if Democrats won’t make spending-cut concessions in the debt-ceiling fight.
Trump made the comments in a town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire, with Republicans and undecided voters, hosted by CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins. The prime-time event quickly spiraled out of control, with Trump repeating lies about the 2020 election and mocking E. Jean Carroll, who on Tuesday won a defamation suit against him and $5 million in damages.
At one contentious moment, Trump called Collins “a nasty person,” and later refused to commit to accepting the results of the 2024 election if he lost.
On the subject of the debt ceiling, an undecided voter asked Trump for his thoughts on the debt situation and how the country could move forward.
“We have to start paying off debt,” he said.
“I say to the Republicans out there – congressman, senators – if [Democrats] don’t give you massive cuts, you’re going to have to do a default, and I don’t believe they’re going to do a default because I think the Democrats 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.”
Pressed by Collins on the issue of defaulting, 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.”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said a default on US debt could cause “financial chaos” and have an “adverse impact” on the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency, and said an unprecedented default could happen as soon as 1 June if Congress doesn’t Don’t raise the borrowing limit.
While Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the US will not default on its debt, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has left the possibility open. Earlier Wednesday, President Joe Biden warned “if we default on our debt, the whole world is in trouble.”
When Trump was president, Republicans raised the debt ceiling three times – with no concessions to Democrats – while expanding the deficit, and in 2019 Trump said he couldn’t “imagine anyone using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge.”
When Collins pointed that out, Trump said: “sure, that’s when I was president.”
“So why is it different now?” Collins asked.
“Because now I’m not president,” he replied.
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