House Speaker John Boehner predicted a “whale of a fight” over raising the nation’s debt ceiling this fall, despite
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s assertions thatPresident Barack Obama wouldn’t negotiate on the point before a mid-October deadline.
Boehner visited Idaho on Monday, where he spoke at a fundraiser for Rep. Mike Simpson. He told the crowd there that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives would only agree to lift the debt ceiling without significant cuts and changes to Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, farm programs and government pensions.
“Now, it’s time to deal with the mandatory side,” Boehner said to applause, according to the Idaho Statesman. “I’ve made it clear that we’re not going to increase the debt limit without cuts and reforms that are greater than the increase in the debt limit.
“The president doesn’t think this is fair, thinks I’m being difficult to deal with. But I’ll say this: It may be unfair but what I’m trying to do here is to leverage the political process to produce more change than what it would produce if left to its own devices. We’re going to have a whale of a fight.”
Boehner’s comments could be significant, in that they are a return to the so-called “Boehner rule” that he adopted during 2011 talks. The “Boehner rule” requires spending cuts equal to the amount of the debt ceiling increase.
Boehner dropped this rule in January, using a creative manoeuvre when the House last passed a debt-ceiling bill. That legislation attached a “No Budget, No Pay” provision that ultimately ended up in both chambers of Congress passing budgets. It also wasn’t technically a clean increase in the borrowing limit, as it simply suspended the debt ceiling for a three-month period.
Ultimately, what Boehner’s comments signal is that this debt ceiling fight — which needs to be resolved by mid-October — could end up looking a lot more like 2011 than it did in early 2013.
“I wish I could tell you it was going to be pretty and polite, and it would all be finished a month before we’d ever get to the debt ceiling. Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way,” Boehner said in Idaho. “If this were easy to do, somebody over the last 20 or 30 years would have gotten it done. We’re going to do it this fall.”
Meanwhile, Lew went on CNBC Tuesday morning and stuck to the Obama administration’s line that it wouldn’t negotiate over the debt ceiling, casting it as a false debate over bills that Congress has racked up.
He was following up on a letter he sent to Boehner and other Congressional leaders on Monday, which predicted possible “irreparable harm” to the economy if Congress didn’t act.
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