Republicans Sending Signals Won’t Force U.S. Into Default on Debt Limit

Its sounds like Congressional Republicans are manning the lifeboats to flee the sinking “Good Ship Default Deschmault Do What We Say Or We Don’t Raise the Debt Limit.” The ship is sinking — not because of it’s long name, but because political pros on both sides think it would be disastrous for the GOP if House Republicans triggered a national and perhaps international financial meltdown. And perhaps the Republican retreat where GOPers heard about the party’s increasingly lousy image — plus the latest poll — has something to do with it. Talking Points Memo:

The jig is up. Republicans are going to increase the debt limit. Probably for free.

And in the end, their change of heart took about two weeks.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who on January 4 warned that Republicans might force the country past the debt limit, now says “We will raise the debt ceiling. We’re not going to default on our debt.”

Influential conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer says Republicans should increase the debt limit in small increments, but without any real hope of using it to extract concessions.

The only thing left is for party leaders to talk a conservative rump of House Republicans through the stages of grief ahead of the deadline just over a month from now. That was ostensibly the purpose of the House Republican conference’s three-day retreat in Williamsburg, Va., which comes to an end this afternoon.
And then you’ll note Sean Hannity et. all falling into the new party line.

Over the past 36 hours, Republican House members have been provided a blunt assessment of the consequences of breaching the debt limit, and batted around a variety of options that run the gamut from the most extreme form of hostage taking to effective surrender. In Rep. Paul Ryan’s words, they’ve set expectations — presumably quite low. What they haven’t heard yet is an edict from the top that the party must abandon even the pretense of using the debt limit as a source of leverage — that the “Boehner rule,” which requires a dollar in spending cuts for every dollar increase in the debt limit, is really, truly dead. And so the threat continues, however diminished.

The biggest tell of the week didn’t come in an official statement from party leaders or a tightly choreographed press event, but in a couple of glancing thoughts from Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) who moseyed over from the main lodge at the Kingsmill resort to the club house — where organizers confined the press — to chat with reporters about the state of affairs as of Thursday afternoon.

Fleming started off by cautioning his audience of reporters that House Republicans would be hard-pressed to pass a clean debt limit bill, and so would try to coalesce around a bill that both increases borrowing authority and cuts spending.

“I think the Republicans would have a real problem giving the president a clean debt ceiling, even … short term,” he said. “Maybe some would do it, but I think to get a majority of the majority vote, I think it’s impossible.”

Fleming was talking about the Hastert rule — the GOP’s principle that legislation shouldn’t come to the floor unless the majority of the conference supports it. But five minutes later Fleming gave up the ghost.

“I think that the majority of the majority Hastert rule comes out of a time when we had a Republican president,” he acceded. “When you have a Democrat president that’s a very hard thing to achieve sometimes — and not necessarily important.”

The sound you hear is of political goalposts being moved.

But look for GOPers to make this shift in a way so it seems like they are the aggressive ones, forcing the Democrats into a political corner. But (presumably) the Democrats know that’s coming and they will avoid being herded into the corner as they watch Republicans…in what political polls shows is a political corner.

12 Comments

  1. I hope this article is true. One less needless and massive piece of political disfunction.

  2. So now what about all that spending and the deficit? I suggest Obama bring back the Simpson-Bowles proposal.

  3. What dd said.

  4. All we had to do is send them all to a plantation and serve mint juleps and Viola! common sense emerges? Who knew? All that campaign money…

    Now all they have to do is take the Tea Party leaders to that same plantation. And don’t serve them tea! Maybe moonshine.

  5. It was like pulling teeth!
    But there will alot more fighting and struggles ahead to keep the populace entertained in the weeks ahead.
    Spending cuts, as everyone will remember have been heavily addressed by the Budget Control Act signed by Obama which agreed to cut spending by 1.5T over the next 10 years. I don’t think the Reps will get a whole lot more until they also eliminate loopholes.

  6. LOL: “If the Senate or House fails to pass a budget in that time, members of Congress will not be paid by the American people for failing to do their job. No budget, no pay,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., in a statement.”

  7. As if Congress not getting paid fixes anything or has anything to do with the holdups. Maybe if they can stop adding absurd additions to budgets that kill it would be a step in the right direction.

  8. Spending cuts, as everyone will remember have been heavily addressed by the Budget Control Act signed by Obama which agreed to cut spending by 1.5T over the next 10 years. I don’t think the Reps will get a whole lot more until they also eliminate loopholes.

    You mean the BCA that hasn’t actually been put into place by either party and simply says that future Congresses are going to spend less because an old Congress said so? That BCA?

    Please, when a future Congress chooses to spend more (and it will), that law isn’t worth a cup of warm spit.

    And, of course, most of the savings from the BCA come from not continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at an elevated level for the next decade. Some savings there…

  9. SteveinCH, you might just want to go to the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities, cbpp.org and see just what has been proposed and signed into law.
    900B in domestic and intnl. programs, and 600B in defense. There are also provisions for caps on spending.

    I can understand your cynicism though…It was signed into law in 2011 with a final revision in 2012. The cuts now begin 2013 and go thru 2022.

  10. Sheknows

    The CBPP Is simply a partisan organization. Here’s the CBO assessment of the BCA.

    http://www.cbo.gov/sites/defau.....ctaug1.pdf

    In short, it cuts no program. It simply articulates caps that future Congresses are free to override. In other words, it does exactly nothing.

    To call that a spending cut is simply specious.

  11. ??…You might want to read that again. It says exactly what my source said. 900B in cuts for domestic and intnl.programs and 600B in defense cuts. To begin in 2013!!

  12. It does? What programs were actually cut as a consequence of the BCA?

    The cbo doesn’t say? Nor does the CBPP

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