GOP Reversal on Debt Ceiling Not a Sure Thing

The government would remain shut down for now

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Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (C) addresses reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 10, 2013.

UPDATED at 2:18 p.m.

House Republicans said Thursday they will propose a plan to lift the federal debt limit for six weeks in exchange for a commitment from President Obama to negotiate a broader fiscal reform package.

The move represents a stark reversal for the House GOP, which had previously insisted it would not extend the U.S. borrowing authority without an accompanying mix of spending cuts or fiscal reforms. The stopgap debt-limit hike that House leaders will present to Obama this afternoon at the White House would not include a battery of demands.

However, the plan would not end the 10-day-old government shutdown, members said, and it is far from clear that President Obama would agree to negotiations under those conditions.

For weeks, the President has said he will not negotiate with Republicans unless government is funded and the debt ceiling is increased. On Thursday morning, a White House official reiterated that position in a statement to reporters. “The President has made clear that he will not pay a ransom for Congress doing its job and paying our bills,” the official wrote in an email. “Once Republicans in Congress act to remove the threat of default and end this harmful government shutdown, the President will be willing to negotiate on a broader budget agreement to create jobs, grow the economy, and put our fiscal house in order.”

If the president maintains that position, as White House Spokesman Jay Carney pledged to do midday Thursday, the Republican offer may not go anywhere. “What we have discussed as a conference is a temporary extension of the debt ceiling in exchange for a real commitment by this President and the Senate Majority Leader to sit down and talk about the pressing problems that are facing all the American people,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor after the morning meeting.

The exact contours of the proposal, which House Republican leaders unveiled during a closed-door conference meeting in the Capitol basement on Thursday morning, are still emerging. Members said no formal bill was presented by leadership. But if Obama is open to the notion, a vote on the House floor could take place as soon as Friday. Carney said Thursday that Obama would “likely” sign even a temporary “clean” debt limit deal, but he refused to speculate on whether Obama would approve of several Republican proposals that may be included in the bill.

House Republicans cast the next step as securing a “handshake” agreement with the President to enter negotiations, which Obama has thus far eschewed in an attempt to break what the White House characterizes as “the cycle of hostage-taking.”

“It’s a pretty out-of-the-box kind of an idea from where we’ve been,” concedes Representative Matt Salmon, a conservative Republican from Arizona.

The move is a sign that party leaders are determined to stave off the specter of default, and see an opening to force Obama to the bargaining table. In recent days, conservative activists have also expressed openness to splitting the debt ceiling and shutdown conversations, in the hopes of refocusing the debate on Obamacare. “What this will do, hopefully, is show some movement on our side,” says Wisconsin Representative Reid Ribble. “It gets the President at the table.” It also represents a tacit admission that the House GOP, which has seen its poll numbers slide as the shutdown drags on, recognize the political peril of the negotiation position they had long staked out.

Once there, House Republican want Obama to agree to a familiar package of spending cuts, entitlement reforms and other measures designed to shave down the deficit and reach a balanced budget. The short-term debt limit hike could buy time for Obama and House Republican leaders to revisit the framework of a broader budget deal—perhaps not the grand bargain over which they haggled in 2011, but a package of reforms that both sides could market to their bases as a significant accomplishment.

“We have to attain some kind of agreement before we do a full-year debt ceiling” hike, says John Fleming, a House Republican from Louisiana.

In the meantime, the government would remain shuttered, unless the Republicans’ opening offer paves the way to further agreement. Decoupling the debt limit from the government funding bill gives no relief to the legions of federal workers currently on furlough. But House Democrats have signaled that they would not turn down a clean debt-limit hike of any length, even though they, like the White House, strongly prefer a long-term solution. “We’re not going to vote against making sure that America pays its bills,” said Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer.

It is still uncertain whether the restive House Republican conference broadly supports the plan. While members described the meeting as positive and cordial, others said both more moderate and more conservative members expressed reservation. Some centrist Republicans are concerned about leaving the government shuttered. While several of the Tea Party Republicans who forced the shutdown in an effort to change elements of Obamacare said they would support the plan if Obama signed on, others withheld their support.

“There’s a lot of support for a team effort. It’s not like it’s a sharp division of people opposing each other. People may not agree with the components,” says Representative Steve King, an Iowa Tea Partyer who said he wasn’t sure if he would back the plan. “They’re not unified on a direction, but they’re unified on the idea of getting unified.”

With reporting by Alex Rogers and Zeke Miller

57 comments
arvay
arvay

Here's a formula for a Democratic sweep in 2014. 

Obama agrees to these constant last-minute drawbacks from the brink, so he's the one constantly saving America from default while he negotiates. negotiate, but don't agree. Once he has both houses of Congress on board, he can pass almost anything he wants -- including a single-payer healthcare system. Please, Republicans, keep the nutcase wing alive and well, prostrate yourselves to them every day. 

drudown
drudown

Oh, wonderful. 

The GOP's "solution" to the budget crisis their "no new taxes, ever" policy created is to borrow enough money to last a few weeks? And they think they can use an Unconstitutional 'Legislative Veto' to coerce a Tax Code 'change' in the process that will only make the United States less able to meet its obligations? Why is there is ZERO sense of GOP policy making the United States stronger, more solvent and competitive? There has yet to be a SINGLE cost/benefit explanation for allowing the government to "shut down", nor what "rational basis" (per Supreme Court precedent) there is to propose a "solution" that requires more "Legislative Veto" concessions a month or two away. 

That is the opposite of "doing your job", Mr. Speaker. 

By analogy, what if judge pre-meditatively said "I'm going to adjudicate one case this year unless changes are made to our system of government according to my business partner's liking". Well, you work for THE PEOPLE. I don't care who pours gold into your campaign contributors' pockets so they get more Oil and Gas deals. 

Stop pronouncing the Constitution like a code for thieves.

sridhar.sid
sridhar.sid

US Drones have targetted the Taliban. It is time to deal with the Taliban in the US, the Tea Party! Righteous to the core, these folks couldn't care if the Country stops working, just to make a point! This type of extremism is as abhorent as the Islamic extremists

billbear1961
billbear1961

Get "unified" with reopening the government, CLOWN.


littleredtop
littleredtop

NEWS FLASH --  Because of the government shutdown, President Obama has postponed the upcoming time change from daylight savings time to standard time.  It was further announced that this move was made necessary because the Bureau of Time Standards was forced to furlough its entire staff.  An attempt to contact that agency, located in Fort Collins, CO, resulted in a recorded message indicating that the offices had been closed until further notice.  President Obama was not available for comment because he lost track of time. 

HazeAndDrizzle
HazeAndDrizzle

The budget could be gone with the tax rates that Bill Clinton handed George Bush. Back to Democratic Surplus like left by Carter and Clinton to the Republican successors. And terminate the Republican mega-deficits like left by Reagan-Bush and Bush II to their Democratic Successors.


A little shot of targeted revenue in an economy that has seen a massive concentration of wealth which robbed the middle and working class and bludgeon the poor would do wonders.

j45ashton
j45ashton

You might recall that Tea Party activism really started over TARP.  Some say it began with Rick Santelli having a hissy fit on CNBC over TARP.  But then came Obamacare and that really grew the Tea Party ranks.  The big money organizers behind the Tea Party are from the South and they don't care about TARP.   But they do care about the ACA because it changes their homes culturally from states that often try to act independently (like they're a part of a confederation) to states that are a part of a program that fundamentally binds us together as a nation.  The Emancipation proclamation didn't do it, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 didn't do it, but Obamacare will do it because it's a matter of family health & self-economic interest that gives us all incentive to benefit now and truly set aside the past.   


fishtankwog
fishtankwog

The only "pressing problem facing the American people" is this collection of self-serving ,sold-out traitors posing as the Republican Party.  Vote NO on all incumbent republicans, and don't give any of them a damn dime.

yogi
yogi

Photo caption: Eric Cantor in power saver mode.

Adam_Smith
Adam_Smith

If President Obama's main concern is that making a concession will only encourage more debt limit hostage taking in the future then perhaps the solution is this:

Make a major concession such as delaying some parts of Obamacare, (which, frankly, may well benefit from review and renegotiation), and the Republicans make this concession -- agree to repeal the debt limit law. It never served a legitimate purpose, (because in the past the debt limit "had to be" raised except now it doesn't if we don't mind risking global economic catastrophe), and abolishing it is good policy in any case.


jhoughton1
jhoughton1

No half-measure "deals".  Stick to your guns, Mr. Prez.

allthingsinaname
allthingsinaname

Vote themselves more time to maintain the hostage. After all  if you kill the hostage what good is it?

swagger
swagger

that picture of boehner shows more than his usual orange glow.  maybe that's how to read him.  just forget he's a spineless self serving reptile.

j45ashton
j45ashton

The GOP is launching a multi-pronged attack that has no focus.  The government is shut down to eliminate or delay  Obamacare.  The debt ceiling extensions will be short to deal with Medicaid & Medicare.  The Democrats are not going to give much if anything on Medicaid & Medicare.  There may be tweaks to Obamacare but only after the government is allowed to open.  Net result will be very little for Republicans.  They will have put the whole nation through a lot of misery for very little result.  Of course, instead of giving up, they have the option of creating even more misery & chaos.  They're just looking dumber & dumber.  Republicans are struggling to resist the fact they are on the wrong side of history and they are in the midst of dying.

jsfox
jsfox

@littleredtop Well fortunately unlike you little drop he has not lost his mind

manlyman
manlyman

Carter? Surplus? Um...?...

Sparrow55
Sparrow55

@j45ashton It's truly ironic when you think about it.  The last remnants of the old guard Confederate mentality are being kept alive in the party of Lincoln.   

tom.litton
tom.litton

@Adam_Smith I've heard that it will be very disruptive to the insurance companies to delay it at this point.  Plus it would leave at least some people without any way of getting insurance that they need now. 

Not to mention that the delay will be for the sole purpose to have more time to kill it.  The republicans know (and have even stated publicly) that once people gain experience with Obamacare they will like it and won't want to give it up.

So, why would the democrats ever agree to delay it?  Their is no benefit to them or the people or the law. I can see delaying a month to fix the computer glitches, but even then it doesn't make much sense.  It isn't as if keeping the computers running delays the programmers from fixing the problems. 

j45ashton
j45ashton

@Adam_Smith Delaying Obamacare means political opportunity for the GOP.  Within the delay period, you will hear more propaganda...it means death panels & throwing Granny off the cliff.  It's a job killer.  You will lose your job.  You will have to pay higher premiums.  They had 3 yrs to get it underway & it failed.  And on & on.  No.  No delay.  It goes into effect & people can start seeing for themselves what it is.  Changes can occur after rollout.  And if it's bad, in 2014 people will vote for the GOP.  

jhoughton1
jhoughton1

Although, the more I think about it, it's not like the Reps in the House are going to want to do this whole debt-limit-hostage thing again in five weeks.  They'll be glad to have it over, as it's harming them badly.  So, we can take "short term" to mean "long term" where the DL is concerned  But what needs to happen, though, before any short-term deal is made, is get the government open again.  And I think Reps would like to see that happen if only it didn't make them look even weaker than they are.  If they push the debt limit (good for Wall Street) but keep the government closed (hurting Main Street) they will suffer.  So, any way you look at it, the Dems are holding the high cards at the moment.

tommyudo
tommyudo

@j45ashton 


Frankly, the Dems shouldn't give an inch on entitlement cuts, but the  past is prologue. and Obama has said a few years ago that these were negotiable items. How come further cutting the DOD, oil and gas subsidies, and other corporate goodies for the  1% aren't negotiable? Oh, that's right,  I forgot, those are the people that control the DC agenda. I wonder how the corporate  Dems are going to justify their sell out of SS and Medicare to the base. If they go that route I won't bother to ever cast a ballot again.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@j45ashton And of course the option of getting their party together to come up with a viable, superior alternative to Obamacare, putting a bill out for citizens to see, THEN telling us they want to discuss doing away with Obamacare just appears to be beyond the GOP's grasp. 

j45ashton
j45ashton

@Sparrow55 @j45ashton Interesting split.  There's the confederacy/tea party core but then there are guys like Boehner, Cantor, etc.  They need the confederacy/tea party core to win national elections, but what do Boehner, Cantor, etc stand for themselves?  I think it's big business, big money.  Big business & big money do not like this government shutdown and do not like playing with the debt ceiling.  So internally the GOP is caught between a rock & a hard place.   

j45ashton
j45ashton

@mantisdragon91 @j45ashton My crackpot view, but the walkout of the Dixiecrats after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 says to me that even by then the Civil War hadn't ended.   The GOP has lived off the vote of disaffected whites ever since.  But the ACA threatens to end all that.  It's a little like being in the army in conflict.  You don't care what the color is of the guy next to you so long as you know he's got your back.

Adam_Smith
Adam_Smith

Let me add that the main thing that would get delayed would be Republican attempts to de-fund the ACA.

Adam_Smith
Adam_Smith

@tom.litton @Adam_Smith Delay isn't repeal. Failure to reach agreement allows the law to take effect unchanged except for the delay. Agreeing to this, I believe, would be an acceptable price to pay in return for repeal of the debt limit law as I suggested. As for the insurance companies, they will cope and much of what isn't right about the ACA was their fault to begin with.

Adam_Smith
Adam_Smith

@j45ashton @Adam_Smith So you are not up to the task of arguing with Republican criticisms or of looking for ways to improve the law to make it more attractive. That is unfortunate.

j45ashton
j45ashton

@tommyudo @j45ashton I don't believe you'll see any discussion of social security.  It's not really in jeopardy. And there will be no movement or Medicaid & Medicare.  The only option left in these programs is to cut benefits.  Would mean even more disgusting conditions for people on Medicaid and people on Medicare will not stand for their benefits being cut.  Means testing for premiums may happen.  

HazeAndDrizzle
HazeAndDrizzle

@Adam_Smith @tom.litton Meanwhile 50,000 to 60,000 people die each year from lack of coverage as estimated by the CBO. That by the way is the total kill count on the American side in Vietnam. Or the price of two years worth of gun "freedom" uniquely enjoyed in this country. Oh the humanity!

tom.litton
tom.litton

@Adam_Smith @tom.litton Delaying has consequences, both real world and political.  The republicans have given no reason for the democrats to deal with those consequences.

Do you think the period of a year wasn't intentional?  It puts the roll out of ACA right before the election.  All major programs like this have problems (not just in government, but also in corporations as well).  It takes experience and time with how the law actually works, instead of peoples imagination about how it should work, to have the knowledge to improve it.

If it is delayed a year, we will be having mostly the exact same problems with the roll out we are now, except there will be no time to fix them and for people to get use to the system (and decide if the truth of obamacare is acceptable to them), before the election. 

Delaying it has no real benefit policy wise and is extremely stupid politically.   The democrats will never agree to it, and the republicans know it.

cent-fan
cent-fan

@Adam_Smith @j45ashton   The most disgusting joke of all is to have the Republicans embrace the "good" points of ACA, like disregarding pre-existing conditions, while trashing everything else, especially corralling healthy people to participate and balancing the cost for the participating insurance companies.

This is an example of the worst "many politicians spoil the program" scenario.  Make sure nobody feels pain and nobody pays for the happy handouts.  The Republicans can't take away the benefits but they can make sure people can get them for nothing... and the Republicans make the deficit greater and blame everything on a program that they voted for after they made it unworkable.

jmac
jmac

@Adam_Smith @j45ashton If Republicans want to delay the Republican health care plan, they can win an election.  They lost big in the last election.

PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

@jason024 @Adam_Smith @j45ashton Here is the honest truth, what's called a gaffe in Washington:

* The Tea Party isn't genuinely interested in amending the ACA; they're committed to destroying it.

* The Tea Party isn't genuinely interested in negotiating with Obama; they're committed to excising him from history.

* The Tea Party isn't genuinely interested in governing; they're committed to burning down government.


There is no point to negotiation with them, and any debate that doesn't use the above points as its frame is just sophistry.

HazeAndDrizzle
HazeAndDrizzle

@Adam_Smith @j45ashton The law is passed dozer. You are deeply afraid its success a year from now will bury all these distortions. It your side that is in a rush to prevent the truth from being known. It is not a philosophical debate, people are dying  under the previous system which has not yet quite passed. 50,000 to 60,000 by CBO estimate. Don't believe it - consider the entire motive for the main character in Breaking Bad. Just a thought.

jsfox
jsfox

@Adam_Smith @j45ashton I would be more than happy to discuss ways to make Obamacare BETTER. Delaying implementation is not one of them. Laws are easily improved once enacted. And might I remind you of Mitt's word: The fastest way to kill Obamacare is to delay it.

The Republicans need to go along way before they convince me or any Democrat they actually want to improve the law and not bury six feet under. 5+ years of demagoguery will need to be undone by them!

Never mind that they used to be all for it before Obama put his name on it.  

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCJxe7dp2rM

grape_crush
grape_crush

 @Adam_Smith @shepherdwong> Illegitimi non carborundum

I'm not letting the bstards grind me down. I recognize the bstards as the dishonest, morally and intellectually bankrupt bstards they are and choosing not to listen to their mouth noises.

Obama deserves some blame for pushing through is medical insurance reform prematurely and without sufficient regard to bipartisan consensus.

Oh dear; yet another person who thinks that, depite all the amendments the GOP added to the ACA, there wasn't bipartisanship...as for consensus, the ACA passed by a simple majority of votes, even with those Republicans offering content to the bill refused to vote for what they were amending.

Hard to hold bipartisan consensus as a necessary ingredient in the legislative process when one side has little intention of dealing honestly.

> The ACA has many drawbacks, defects and deficiencies and we should not have to wait for a new president to address them.

We don't. The issue here is not Obama or the Senate Dems' willingness to engage in the legislative process. 

The issue is the House Republicans' willingness to break the legislative process in favor of hostage taking and throwing temper tantrums when they don't get their way. Normally, the House Speaker would not let that happen, but John Boehner is easily the weakest Speaker ever in my memory.

> Reopening the discussion is entirely proper no matter how tiring or embarrassing...

Sure it is. The House Republicans 'reopened' the discussion 41 times previously.

What the House GOP (and certain members of the Senate) don't seem to understand about legislating is that the bills they produce have to also pass the Senate and be signed by the President.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@Adam_Smith  "The ACA has many drawbacks, defects and deficiencies and we should not have to wait for a new president to address them. Reopening the discussion is entirely proper no matter how tiring or embarrassing it may be to the ACA's defenders."

When Republicans offer an alternative to their Heritage Foundation plan, I'm sure that the current President will address them. Delaying or killing certain aspects of the plan isn't a plan to improve the law. And every system devised by man "has many drawbacks, defects and deficiencies," few worse than the current private, "free-market" health care system.  We deal with them as best we can. There's no need to defend the ACA; it's the only game in town.

jason024
jason024

@Adam_Smith @shepherdwong Come on now....it is not like they tried....what is he supposed to do wait until the GOP went with him when he had majorities in Congress?


"According to a HELP Committee document about bipartisan aspects of the health reform bill the committee passed July 15, 2009, its final bill included '161 Republican amendments,' including 'several amendments from Senators [Mike] Enzi [R-WY], [Tom] Coburn [R-OK], [Pat] Roberts [R-KS] and others [that] make certain that nothing in the legislation will allow for rationing of care,' and reflected the efforts of 'six bipartisan working groups' that 'met a combined 72 times' in 2009 as well as '30 bipartisan hearings on health care reform' since 2007, half of which were held in 2009 [HELP Committee document, 7/09]. And according to the Senate Finance Committee's September 22, 2009, document detailing the amendments to the Chairman's Mark considered, at least 13 amendments sponsored by one or more Republican senators were included in the bill."

Look nobody is saying they can't reevaluate/make improvements but lets be honest here...we are talking about trying to deal with a political party who catered to the radicals who wanted to default on our debt and shut down the government over repealing the entire law. Do you really think they will negotiate to make it better when they just shut down the government over it and promised their constituents that they were going to repeal it?

Adam_Smith
Adam_Smith

@shepherdwong @Adam_Smith "I'm sick and tired of arguing with Republican lies, obstruction and traitorous treatment of the nation and 99% of it's citizens."
Illegitimi non carborundum

While I hold Republicans fully responsible for the illegitimate hostage taking tactic, Obama deserves some blame for pushing through is medical insurance reform prematurely and without sufficient regard to bipartisan consensus. The ACA has many drawbacks, defects and deficiencies and we should not have to wait for a new president to address them. Reopening the discussion is entirely proper no matter how tiring or embarrassing it may be to the ACA's defenders.

jason024
jason024

@Adam_Smith @j45ashton No amount of arguing is going to convince the Tea Party that it will work. Let them or their friends experience it for themselves and see how good it can be. For most people, it should provide benefits immediately or see no change in their current coverage.

Nobody is saying we can't improve the law. If we need tweaks, then lets make those changes as needed.

We are well beyond convincing people.....there is so much misinformation out there that it will take people trying it out for them to be convinced. BTW: Delay means more time for the GOP to kill it or make it so ineffective that we may as well start from scratch.

grape_crush
grape_crush

 @Adam_Smith @j45ashton > So you are not up to the task of arguing with Republican criticisms

Been there, done that. Had to listen to years' worth of 'Republican criticisms' throughout the legislative and court processes, along with tons of lies, falsehoods, and outright misrepresentations.

I'm about through arguing with intellectually dishonest ideologues and sophists.

j45ashton
j45ashton

@Adam_Smith @j45ashton You make it sound as if you occupy the moral high ground on this.  In actually, no Republican can make any such claim.  I hearken back to the Nixon days of CREEP dirty tricks.  No, Democrats should not get suckered into the Frank Luntz, Fox News, Karl Rove propaganda machine.  You guys don't deal in argument.  Given the opportunity, you deal in manipulation.  Obamacare will go in & people can judge for themselves.  Have anything against people judging for themselves, do you?

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@Adam_Smith "So you are not up to the task of arguing with Republican criticisms or of looking for ways to improve the law to make it more attractive."

1) The law is already in effect. 2) It was a Republican healthcare plan to begin with. 3) Improvements are being made as we speak and will continue to be made as the program rolls out. 4) The entire let's delay and improve the law is merely a Republican stalking horse to try to kill it. 5) I'm sick and tired of arguing with Republican lies, obstruction and traitorous treatment of the nation and 99% of it's citizens.

j45ashton
j45ashton

@jmac @bobell That wasn't my experience.  When I first went on, I was paying $107/mo. for part B.  After they reviewed my income, the cost went up to close to $200/mo.

jmac
jmac

@bobell   Means tested - barely.  If you're income increases by $250,000 a year, you pay all of $40 more a month for Medicare.   Who wouldn't love it?  

j45ashton
j45ashton

@bobell The current est is against your income.  If you're over 65 & have very little income, but very substantial assets (like let's say 3-4 million in money market & cds which are paying very low interest these days), you'd be paying rock-bottom premiums.  Full means testing would mean taking everything you have into account. 

bobell
bobell

Medicare Part B is already means tested. I wonder what perecntage of Repuoblican House members know this.