Boehner: No debt ceiling increase without spending cutsHouse Speaker John Boehner a little more than one year ago, in May, 2012:
Setting the stage for a fall showdown over raising the nation’s debt ceiling, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, renewed on Tuesday his insistence that “we're not going to raise the debt ceiling without real cuts in spending. It's as simple as that.”
As President Barack Obama readies a series of speeches later this week setting the parameters for this fall’s fight over government spending, the top House Republican said his position remained unchanged.
“I believe the so-called Boehner Rule is the right formula for getting that done,” he later added, referring to the eponymous rule matching new debt authority with spending cuts.
Boehner's 'line in the sand' on debtBut even though he drew what he called a "line in the sand," Boehner was bluffing, ultimately supporting an increase in the debt limit without preconditions. It's the same thing that will happen this time as long as President Obama keeps his pledge to not negotiate with the GOP when they threaten to take the economy hostage.
House Speaker John Boehner warned Tuesday that he won't permit another increase in the debt ceiling without a larger amount of spending cuts and reforms approved in tandem.
"When the time comes, I will again insist on my simple principle of cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase. This is the only avenue I see ... to force the elected leadership of this country to solve our structural fiscal imbalance," Boehner said at a fiscal summit sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, according to prepared remarks.
The reason that 2011 was different isn't that Boehner's position was different—then, as now, he insisted on "the Boehner rule"—it's that in 2011, President Obama agreed to negotiate with Republicans, believing it was possible to use the debt limit as leverage for achieving a grand bargain. By the time it became clear a grand bargain wasn't within grasp, it was too late for him to refuse to negotiate, and we ended up with sequestration and spending caps.
But in 2012 and early 2013, President Obama refused to make the same mistake, forcing Boehner to reveal his obvious bluff. As long as he stands firm this time around, Boehner will once again be waving the white flag of surrender.