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Biden and McCarthy to hold White House talks in bid to reach debt deal

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Joe Biden was due to meet Kevin McCarthy on Monday as the White House sought to stave off a US debt default, a potentially catastrophic event the US treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, has said will happen on or around 1 June if no deal to raise the $31.4tn debt ceiling is reached.If the debt limit is not raised, the US government will default on its bills: a historic first with probably catastrophic consequences.

Federal workers would be furloughed, global stock markets would be likely to crash and the US economy would probably drop into recession.McCarthy, the House speaker, leads a Republican caucus demanding harsh spending cuts in return for raising the ceiling.

Democrats fear Republicans are willing to allow talks to fail, thereby pitching the US and world economies into chaos, seeing it as a price worth paying for beating Biden at the polls next year.On Monday, in a message seen by the Guardian, a senior Democratic Senate staffer predicted disaster ahead.“I think we will” default, the staffer said. “I think most House Republicans want a default so even if McCarthy could make a deal he won’t have the votes to pass it.”Biden has said he will consider spending cuts but has called Republican demands “unacceptable”, for example saying he will not back subsidies for big energy companies and “wealthy tax cheats” while putting at risk healthcare and food assistance.Biden and McCarthy were due to meet at the White House at 5.30pm ET.On Sunday, arriving at the White House after attending the G7 summit in Japan, Biden told reporters a conversation with McCarthy from Air Force One “went well”.The House speaker said the call was “productive” and added: “Our teams are talking today and we’re … meeting tomorrow.

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