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Ear to the Ground

Boehner Doubles Down, Threatens Default

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Posted on Oct 6, 2013
Gage Skidmore (CC-BY-SA)

House Speaker John Boehner went on television Sunday to scare the hell out of everybody.

He said it would be “irresponsible” to “raise the debt limit without a serious conversation about dealing with problems that are driving the debt up.”

If Congress doesn’t raise the debt limit, the U.S. will be unable to borrow more money to run the country and service existing debt. Not only would the government stay shut down, but the U.S. could default. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, appearing on a different network, said, “Congress is playing with fire.”

President Obama has said he would not negotiate and Congress should pay for programs it has already approved, but with his back against the wall, Obama has backed down before.

Republicans, who shut down the government in a gambit to delay or defund the Affordable Care Act, feel like they need to get something out of this confrontation, for which they’ve received more of the blame. A conversation about debt, whatever that means, might be enough for Boehner to boast a minor victory.

Boehner repeated the claim Sunday that he does not have the votes to pass a budget without the cuts Republicans have demanded. However the administration has consistently said Democrats and moderate Republicans could easily pass a “clean” bill in the House if the speaker would only put it up for a vote. The Senate has already approved such a measure.

‘ABC This Week’:

BOEHNER: I told the president, there’s no way we’re going to pass one. The votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit. And the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So under no circumstances will you pass a clean debt limit?

BOEHNER: We’re not going down that path. It is time to deal with America’s problems. How can you raise the debt limit and do nothing about the underlying problem?

George, we’ve spent more than what we’ve brought in for 55 of the last 60 years. This year, the federal government will have more revenue than any year in the history of our country, and yet we’re still going to have a nearly $700 billion budget deficit. We’re squandering the future for our kids and our grandkids, by not dealing with this problem.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The deficit, as you know, has been coming down this year, but I want to press you on this issue of the risks of not passing a clean debt limit. The Treasury Department put out a report just the other day, where they said it would be unprecedented and catastrophic, that would be the impact of failing to pass a debt limit. They’re going to say, credit markets could freeze. The value of the dollar could plummet. U.S. interest rates could skyrocket. The negative spillovers could reverberate around the world, and there might be a financial crisis and recession that could echo the events of 2008 or worse.

Do you agree with that assessment?

BOEHNER: I do. And the president is putting the nation at risk by his refusal to sit down and have a conversation.

Read more

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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