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Mon Jan 7, 2013, 12:32 PM

Republicans getting weak-kneed about debt ceiling fight

Republicans getting weak-kneed about debt ceiling fight

Posted by Greg Sargent

House Speaker John Boehner spoke at length with the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore about the coming confrontation over the debt ceiling, the sequester, and the spending cuts Republicans will try to achieve. Buried in the interview is a highly newsworthy nugget, in which Boehner implicitly admitted that the debt limit does not give Republicans the leverage they’ve suggested it does.

Indeed, it’s hard to read this exchange as anything other than a sign that Republicans may be backing off the fight over the debt ceiling:

I ask Mr. Boehner if he will take the debt-ceiling talks to the brink — risking a government shutdown and debt downgrade from the credit agencies — given that it didn’t work in 2011 and President Obama has said he won’t bargain on the matter.

The debt bill is “one point of leverage,” Mr. Boehner says, but he also hedges, noting that it is “not the ultimate leverage.” He says that Republicans won’t back down from the so-called Boehner rule: that every dollar of raising the debt ceiling will require one dollar of spending cuts over the next 10 years. Rather than forcing a deal, the insistence may result in a series of monthly debt-ceiling increases.

The Republicans’ stronger card, Mr. Boehner believes, will be the automatic spending sequester trigger that trims all discretionary programs — defense and domestic. It now appears that the president made a severe political miscalculation when he came up with the sequester idea in 2011.

As Moore rightly notes, Boehner “hedged.” He acknowledged that the real leverage point Republicans have is not their threat not to raise the debt ceiling; now the GOP’s leverage lies in the Dem desire to avoid the spending cuts that will kick in as part of the sequester! Of course, half of those constitute defense cuts that Republicans, more so than Dems, oppose at any cost.

It’s true that Boehner insists above that Republicans won’t back down from the demand that spending get cut by the same amount as the debt ceiling rises. But all that really means is that they will use the size of the debt ceiling hike as a metric to set the amount of their spending cut demand — not that the threat of default will be used to extract those cuts. Remember, GOP leaders well know that if they do that, the entire business community will join with Obama and Democrats to tell them to back off or take the blame for cratering the economy, leaving Republicans further isolated. So Boehner is letting it be known that Republicans don’t see the debt ceiling as their primary leverage point in the battle to come.

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LOL! Boehner is trying to create the impression, that he's for sequestration, primarily because of his weak position on the debt ceiling. He Republicans spent most of the year fearmongering about the defense cuts, and did everything possible to avoid the inevitable by kicking the can down the road. As far as the spending cuts in the sequestration package, Republicans agreed to parameters that limit the impact. The notion that he's going to use the spending cuts as leverage, holding them up as hostage to get what he wants, is beyond laughable. The fact that it includes $500 billion in defense cuts is worth it.

The Left's Sequester Leverage

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Reply Republicans getting weak-kneed about debt ceiling fight (Original post)
ProSense Jan 2013 OP
DJ13 Jan 2013 #1
ProSense Jan 2013 #2

Response to ProSense (Original post)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 12:33 PM

1. I'm not going to get excited

until they're at the pants wetting stage.

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