House Speaker John Boehner defiantly reiterated his refusal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling without preconditions, saying in a Tuesday afternoon press conference that such a move would amount to “unconditional surrender.”
Earlier in the afternoon, during a press conference of his own, President Obama signaled that he would be willing to engage in a broader budget negotiation with the Speaker — but not until the House ends the government shutdown and removes the threat of default. At his press conference, Speaker Boehner said that this is unacceptable.
“The long and short of it is, there’s going to be a negotiation,” Boehner said. “We can’t raise the debt ceiling without doing something about what’s driving us to borrow more money and to live beyond our means.”
Boehner declined to explain what he hoped to gain from the negotiation — he did not name any specific programs or expenditures that he wanted to see cut — but he made it clear that he would not stop threatening the economy without some type of concession.
“At times like this, the American people expect their leaders to sit down and have a conversation. I want that conversation to occur now,” he insisted. “What the president said today was if there’s unconditional surrender by Republicans, he will sit down and talk to us. That’s not the way our government works.”
Boehner’s position makes the path forward unclear. President Obama has been adamant that he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling, and to this point Democrats have shown no signs that they will back down from that position. Until Boehner folds his weak hand — the Speaker himself has repeatedly admitted that he will not actually allow the country to default on its debt — the economy will continue to suffer as the negotiations stay frozen in place.
If Boehner does not relent and the debt ceiling is not raised, however, the economic consequences would be catastrophic.