Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Speaker Boehner threatens another debt ceiling fight


Speaker Boehner has said that Republicans will once again demand spending cuts to accompany any debt ceiling hike.
Speaker of the House John Boehner
Last August the United States nearly went into default as Congress nearly failed to raise the debt ceiling in time. Today, Speaker Boehner (R-OH) is threatening to reignite the conflict next year, when the Congress will once again have to raise the debt ceiling limit to avoid default.

Boehner’s office released prepared remarks from a speech the Speaker is set to deliver today before the Pete Peterson Fiscal Summit in Washington D.C. According to Talking Points Memo, those remarks include the following ominous warning from Boehner,

“Allowing America to default would be irresponsible. But it would be more irresponsible to raise the debt ceiling without taking dramatic steps to reduce spending and reform the budget process.”

Boehner will also say that the House Republicans will not allow any tax increases to be passed in order to pay for the debt ceiling hike. Instead, Republicans will demand all spending cuts to pay for any hike.

The problem is that a similar stance led to the standoff between the House Republicans and the White House last August. Eventually Senate Republicans stepped in to force a compromise by House Republicans, but some damage had already been done. After the near default, Standard and poor’s downgraded the United States credit rating. In their report, the S&P cited the political gridlock in Washington rather than the inability of the United States to pay of its debts.

In the past the debt ceiling was a non-political issue, and was routinely raised in order to put creditors at ease. Many Republicans who voted for debt ceiling increases during the Bush era have objected to any increase under the Obama administration. Democrats have argued that the Republicans are attempting to use the debt ceiling as a weapon to gain concessions in a political “hostage taking” strategy.

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