Congressional Democrats know that Republicans have painted themselves in a corner with no exit strategy on the debt ceiling. They know it, they won’t budge, and that’s why Republicans have no choice but to cave, as Politico reports they are preparing to do.
“They may find on this one that the nearest exit may be behind them,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Business Insider.
For the past two confrontations over the debt ceiling, the White House and congressional Democrats have held the line — they say they won’t negotiate over policy with the “full faith and credit” of the United States at risk. They have been unified in their stance, and it has largely worked in diffusing the threat.
Last January, House Republicans attached a “No Budget, No Pay” provision to a debt-limit suspension. In October, when Republicans agreed to reopen the government and suspend the debt ceiling again, there were no strings attached.
Democrats believe that, dating back to the first confrontation over the debt ceiling in the summer of 2011, Republicans have forced themselves into a no-win situation. In 2011, they established the principle of getting concessions in exchange for a lift in the debt ceiling. In that case, it was spending cuts.
But that doesn’t jibe with the fact that most of the Republican leadership does not want another budget battle. Congress is just more than three months removed from a shutdown that House Speaker John Boehner now publicly admits was a disaster, at least temporarily, for the party. A little more than a month ago, Republicans — and Congress as a whole — reversed some of that bad fortune by agreeing to a budget deal.
“That’s the risk of painting yourself in a corner with no exit strategy,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee.
Those that do want a debt-ceiling confrontation point to polls that more Americans agree with them regarding the debt ceiling than the shutdown. But they forget that as the debt-ceiling deadline gets closer and more news coverage is devoted to its potential catastrophic effect, more people turn against the GOP.
“The jury is still out on whether they learned a lesson from shutdown,” Van Hollen told Business Insider on Tuesday.
It appears they have — at least in the strategical aspect. Republicans will officially hash out their strategy on the debt ceiling at their annual retreat this week in Maryland, but it looks like their strategy to win this debate will come in backing out of a dangerous fight and blaming President Barack Obama.
“I don’t think we Republicans want to default on our debt,” Boehner said during a recent press conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington.
“Secondly, the president has made clear he doesn’t want to negotiate. Thirdly, it’s become obvious to me after having tried to work with the President for the last three years that he will not deal with our long-term spending problems unless Republicans agree to raise taxes. And we are not going to raise taxes. And so the options available continue to be narrower in terms of how we address the issue of the debt ceiling, but I’m confident we’ll be able to find a way.”
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