Has John Boehner surrendered on debt ceiling?
House Speaker John Boehner may be thinking of raising the debt ceiling with the help of some Democratic votes – via a bill that includes tweaks to Obamacare, a tax-reform plan, and some reductions in entitlements.
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Mike Allen at Politico on Friday morning quotes an e-mail from a Democratic staffer to this effect. “What everybody is missing is Boehner didn’t say anything new about defaulting. He was always going to need Dem votes to pass a debt ceiling,” the aide writes.Skip to next paragraph
Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.
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Another thing Boehner didn't say anything about was the exact nature of what his presumed debt ceiling legislation would look like.
Boehner has told other House Republicans that what he’s looking for is some kind of larger deal on tax reform, entitlement reform, and spending reductions in return for an agreement to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.
That’s a goal that the speaker has sought for years in negotiations with the White House, only to see it dissolve at the last moment.
“Boehner’s chief goal is conference unity as the debt limit nears, and he’s looking at potentially blending a government-spending deal and debt-limit agreement into a larger budget package,” wrote the National Review’s Robert Costa, whose reporting has provided an invaluable window into House GOP thinking on the current crisis, on Wednesday.
All these reports can coexist without contradiction. Boehner could be thinking of raising the debt ceiling with some Democratic votes – but via a bill that includes some tweaks to Obamacare, a plan for tax reform, some reductions in entitlements, and perhaps increases in some domestic programs.
The speaker’s problem is that there is not actually a clear path to that goal. If he does not include major changes to Obamacare, he’ll lose tea party conservatives. If he does, he’ll lose pretty much the whole Democratic caucus. If he includes revenue increase of some sort in his “grand bargain,” he could lose a majority of his own party. If he does not include concessions on the revenue side, he won’t get Democrats, and so forth and so on.
Did we mention that the White House has insisted that it will accept only a "clean" debt ceiling increase without any added provisions whatsoever?
Meanwhile, conservatives are becoming increasingly suspicious that Boehner, in the end, will cave. Friday’s stories about his debt ceiling position will only increase that feeling. Right now Boehner surely has 20 moderate Republicans willing to vote with Democrats to pass a clean debt ceiling hike, writes right-leaning Allahpundit at Hot Air.
“The only obstacle to passing one is his own personal reluctance to face the political consequences from the right of bringing that hike to the floor," Allahpundit writes. "Show of hands: Who thinks that’ll stop him after two more weeks of tremendous pressure from the center and the left?”
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