LAS VEGAS -- In a direct rebuke to his Republican counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that raising the debt limit is non-negotiable.
Speaking hours before the first Democratic presidential debate, which is being held in his home state, Reid encouraged President Barack Obama not to enter into talks with congressional Republicans, who have plotted to use the debt limit as a means of extracting spending cuts.
"He didn’t do it last time and it was the right thing to do," said Reid. "The debt limit should not be negotiable. It is debts that we owe as this great country of ours. It would be just horrible, foolish and bad for the country to start to renege on the bills we already have run up."
Hours before Reid spoke, CNN reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would seek reductions to Social Security benefits, restrictions on the Environmental Protection Agency and reforms to Medicare, such as an increase in the eligibility age, in exchange for raising the debt limit.
The U.S. is set to hit its borrowing limit on Nov. 5, according to the Treasury Department. If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling before then, the nation will be forced to take dramatic measures in order to simply pay debts it already owes. The government might have to stop paying for food stamps, Social Security benefits and military salaries, among other things.
The White House, which negotiated on the debt limit in the summer of 2011, has vowed repeatedly that it would not do so again, noting that even though those talks were eventually resolved, the preceding drama resulted in the nation's credit being downgraded.