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Rep. Jayapal clashes with CNN host over Americans supporting spending cuts as part of debt limit deal

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“CNN This Morning” co-host Poppy Harlow clashed with Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., on Thursday over debt limit polling as the progressive lawmaker suggested the poll’s line of questioning might have been too vague. 

“CNN has a new poll out in the last two days. What it shows, really interestingly, is 60% of Americans say Congress should only raise the debt ceiling if it comes with spending cuts at the same time. And that includes 58% of independents, is your position out of step now, Congresswoman, with the majority of the American people?” Harlow asked.

Jayapal suggested the poll’s questioning might have produced inaccurate results. 

“I’m so glad you raised that poll. I think it’s really important to look at what that poll says. If you just say to people, should we cut spending? They will probably say yes. However, if you say, you would rather cut spending and reduce the deficit by cutting the tax breaks to the wealthiest corporations and wealthiest individuals or would you like to cut your own health care, education, you know, care for veterans, et cetera? I guarantee you that you would have even higher numbers that say let’s make sure that we’re making the wealthy pair their fair share,” Jayapal said. 


Harlow argued that was not what the question asked and explained the poll’s wording.

“That’s not what the poll says. This is the exact question that was asked of voters, ‘What should Congress do on the debt ceiling?’ ‘Raise only if spending cut.’ 60%. ‘Raise no matter what,’ 24%. ‘Not raise, let U.S. default,’ 15%. These are what they are saying to this critical question,” Harlow said. 

Jayapal responded and said “you can’t take tax cuts out of spending.” 

“Poppy, you can’t take tax cuts out of spending. You know, tax cuts for the wealthiest are spending. Don’t think that that isn’t spending. Under Donald Trump, they added almost $2 trillion to the deficit because they gave tax cuts to the wealthiest. That is spending. I think the American people understand that that’s what needs to change, is we need to roll back the tax cuts and actually make sure that we are reducing the deficit by making the wealthiest pay their fair share. Not by cutting working people’s benefits,” she said. 


Harlow also asked Jayapal about urging the Biden administration to use the 14th amendment to raise the debt ceiling.

“Republicans are using this as a hostage taking move because they couldn’t get these cuts that are trying to get in during the regular negotiations and appropriation session. I think the American people have to understand that that is what is happening. So, you know, is it our preference to use the 14th Amendment? Of course not. We think Republicans should raise the debt ceiling. That can happen today, Poppy, if five Republicans who are responsible to their constitutional obligation get out there and sign the discharge petition for a clean debt ceiling raise with Democrats. So, I don’t want to use the 14th Amendment. But what I am saying is that if it’s a choice between a catastrophic deal for the American people either through default or through these awful spending cuts, then I think the president would have to go to using his unilateral authority to raise the debt ceiling,” she said. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said Tuesday that Republicans were holding negotiations hostage and that “chaos” would ensue if they don’t come to an agreement. 

“The stakes of a default cannot be understated,” Ocasio-Cortez said on CNN Tuesday. 

“The chaos that would ensue and the impact on people’s everyday lives would likely be immediate and it is one of the reasons why we need to take default off the table,” she added. 

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