A clean debt ceiling increase is a gift to China

By Rep. Kevin Hern and Rep. Mark Alford for the Washington Examiner

The public watched as a Communist Chinese spy balloon traversed nearly the entire continental United States this month, floating freely from Montana to Myrtle Beach before President Joe Biden finally gave the green light for the U.S. military to shoot it down. Biden’s balloon debacle was an important reminder that China will seek to exploit any real or perceived weakness from the U.S. in its quest to usurp our role as the world’s preeminent power.

However, the greatest long-term threat to our superiority over China does not even come from China itself but from our exploding national debt. 

Since Biden’s first day in office, Democrats have created $10 trillion in new spending, a record amount in just two years. Just as he did with the Chinese balloon as it drifted across the U.S. mainland, Biden is closing his eyes and hoping the problem will disappear. He is calling for a clean debt ceiling increase instead of recognizing that this is the moment to institute concrete spending reforms and pro-growth policies. Such reforms would not only ensure the prosperity of citizens for generations to come but also protect our competitive edge over Communist China .

Without reforms, our nation’s debt problem will spiral into a crisis that will destabilize the economy, sabotage our national security, and undermine our influence on the world stage. This is not hyperbole. The U.S. is currently over $31 trillion in debt — which is greater than the size of the U.S.’s economy and nearly double the level experienced during the Great Recession of 2008. The recent spending that has swelled our debt has fueled the drastic inflation and economic stagnation experienced over the last two years. As the size of our economy is eclipsed by our national debt and investment is stymied by government borrowing, our economy will suffer at an ever-increasing rate. 

China’s economy is already catching up to the U.S., and as it does, so will its global influence and ability to match our military strength. Compounding the economic threat China poses is that it is the second largest foreign holder of the U.S. debt. In fact, in 2024, the U.S. will send over $60 million in taxpayer money every day to China that it will then use to build its military and economy.

Moreover, as our debt continues to grow, the federal government will be forced to spend an ever-increasing share of its budget to service its debt. According to Congressional Budget Office projections, interest on the debt is on track to eclipse defense spending in 2029 and will be the largest line item behind Medicare and Social Security. As this occurs, pressure will build to reduce critical defense expenditures that maintain our military superiority over China.

Reduced private investment and a depleted manufacturing base will jeopardize the U.S. supply chain and drive companies to move operations, and jobs, overseas. In turn, our nation’s supply chain security will be diminished. As the COVID-19 pandemic showed us, relying on China for critical supplies is a national security liability.

Biden’s answer to our nation’s budget woes has consistently been to raise taxes, a “solution” that will only exacerbate the U.S. economic problems of which China dreams. Through executive fiat, the Biden administration has already instituted the most aggressive regulatory crusade in the history of our nation. These regulations raise the costs of production, driving investment, manufacturing, and jobs overseas to places like China. 

Biden’s calls for a clean debt limit increase ignore the need to institute regulatory reforms and pro-growth tax policies that will ensure the U.S. maintains its economic edge versus China. Put simply, Biden’s debt ceiling demands are a gift to China.

Make no mistake, China enjoys watching the U.S. buckle under its debt crisis. The balloon test was no coincidence. China will continue to challenge the U.S. until the president projects strength at home and abroad. Biden needs to grow a backbone and stand up to China, and he can start by getting serious about fiscal reform. 

Kevin Hern is a U.S. representative for Oklahoma and the chairman of the Republican Study Committee. Mark Alford is a U.S. representative for Missouri.