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Monday, December 09, 2019

WATCH: Boehner Proposes Clean, Short-Term Debt Limit Increase

House Republicans announced on Thursday that they will offer legislation temporarily increasing the debt limit, in exchange for “good-faith negotiations” with the White House over the federal budget.

“What we want to do is to offer the president today the opportunity to move a temporary increase in the debt ceiling,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters, in exchange for “willingness to sit down and discuss with us a way forward to reopen the government, and to start to deal with America’s pressing problems.”

Boehner did not specify which issues qualify as “pressing problems,” but House Republican Conference chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) highlighted “long-term debt drivers,” sounding much like the plan that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) floated in a Wednesday op-ed column.

Although Speaker Boehner has repeatedlyfailed to unite his caucus around his legislative gambits in the past, there are hopeful signs that Republicans will get on board with the short-term increase. Right-wing representatives such as Steve King (R-IA) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who have typified the opposition to the Speaker in the past, are signaling that the Republican caucus could support Boehner in this instance.

Democrats may be a tougher sell. The proposal would not reopen the federal government, which will likely be a sticking point with the White House. President Barack Obama has vowed not to negotiate with House Republicans until both the government shutdown and the threat to breach the debt ceiling end.

“While we are willing to look at any proposal Congress puts forward to end these manufactured crises, we will not allow a faction of the Republicans in the House to hold the economy hostage to its extraneous and extreme political demands,” an anonymous White House official told Politico on Thursday. “Congress needs to pass a clean debt limit increase and a funding bill to reopen the government.”

House Republicans will presumably discuss their plan with President Obama when 18 GOP House leaders and committee chairs meet with him at the White House on Thursday afternoon. The House is not expected to bring any legislation to the floor until after the meeting takes place.


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Republicans need the political press to do a lot of bad journalism in order to carry out their strategy of forcing through devastating spending cuts by leveraging the prospect of a calamitous default on U.S. debt. They need political journalists to produce wishy-washy “both sides” coverage that hides the party’s ultimate culpability and shields it from blame. And the latest coverage from The New York Times shows that their plan may already be working.

It shouldn’t be difficult to acknowledge that Republicans will be the ones at fault if the U.S. breaches the statutory limit on federal borrowing in June. Members of Congress of both parties routinely voted for clean debt limit hikes during Donald Trump’s presidency, which also saw record debt increases. But with Joe Biden in the White House, GOP leaders startedsaying last fall that they would require significant spending cuts – including to Social Security and Medicare – alongside further debt limit increases if their party won the House.

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