Will Republicans Pick a Fight Over the Debt Limit?

Paul Ryan's remarks raise the specter of another bruising budget fight early next year

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Yuri Gripas / Reuters

Representative Paul Ryan

Weary veterans of Washington’s budget battles hoped they were finished. But mere hours after House budget chairman Paul Ryan signed a deal to avert another government shutdown, he raised the possibility of another bruising fight early next year.

“We as a caucus, along with our Senate counterparts, are going to meet and discuss what it is we want to get out of the debt limit,” Ryan said on Fox News Sunday. “We don’t want nothing out of this debt limit. We’re going to decide what it is we can accomplish out of this debt-limit fight.”

The federal government is set to exhaust its borrowing authority on Feb. 7, though the Treasury Department can use accounting gimmicks to stretch its funds a little further. Without a deal to lift the debt ceiling, the U.S. would eventually run the risk of default. Economists and leaders of both parties believe a debt-limit breach would be far more damaging to the U.S. economy than the partial government shutdown that stunted economic growth this fall.

Ryan’s signal that the fiscal fights may not be over startled some Capitol Hill Democrats. They saw the modest deal he reached with Democratic Senator Patty Murray as a sign of mutual disarmament in the budget wars — only to learn the GOP had apparently held on to the biggest procedural weapon in its arsenal.

But Ryan may have been getting ahead of himself. House Republicans have barely begun discussing the debt deadline, and when they take up the matter early next year, Ryan’s voice will be just one of many considered. When it comes to budgets, Ryan’s committee chairmanship makes him the Republican point man. But negotiating over the debt limit has been the province of House Speaker John Boehner.

A source familiar with Ryan’s thinking says the Congressman knows any concessions the party may be able to wring out of the debt-ceiling deadline would be incremental. So why did the House budget chair raise the hopes of the factions spoiling for another showdown? One possible reason: Tea Party members and conservative advocacy groups loathed the deal he cut with Murray. “We weren’t a fan of undoing the sequester,” says Dan Holler, communications director at Heritage Action for America. “If you’re going to increase the debt ceiling, then you need to have some kind of policies there that will change the trajectory of spending in the country.”

Dangling the prospect of a future fight could shore up his fraying relations with the base. But Ryan may also have inadvertently raised expectations of a clash that never comes. Boehner has adopted a newly combative posture toward the conservative advocacy groups that dragged the House GOP into a damaging shutdown fight; neither he nor Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has much appetite for a fiscal fracas that would divert attention from the dismal rollout of Barack Obama’s health care law.

“We’ll be talking about the debt limit with members in the weeks ahead,” says Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. “Can’t really say anything else at this point.” In the past, the Speaker has adopted the so-called Boehner Rule in debt-limit negotiations, which states that any increase in U.S. borrowing authority should be offset by corresponding spending cuts or reforms. Steel did not say whether the Speaker would insist on applying the rule in future negotiations.

For its part, the White House is downplaying the chances of another budget fight. When Obama refused to capitulate in the face of GOP demands as a shutdown loomed in September, he cited the goal of breaking the GOP’s pattern of “hostage taking” since Republicans took control of the House in 2010. “The President’s position has not changed,” Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Monday. “We do not expect Republicans to walk that path again.”

In some ways, Ryan was a surprising figure to raise the prospect. Despite his polarizing budget blueprint, he is cautious with his words and a disciplined custodian of his image. He knows as well as anyone the damage the party incurred by picking an ill-advised shutdown fight, as well as the likelihood that another one next year would overshadow Democrats’ vulnerabilities over Obamacare. Ryan’s allusion to a debt-limit skirmish may reveal the depth of Tea Party disappointment he faces. The risk is that he may have made it more likely the Tea Party pick a fight the rest of the GOP isn’t keen on having.

69 comments
bobcn
bobcn

"“We don’t want nothing out of this debt limit. We’re going to decide what it is we can accomplish out of this debt-limit fight.

So Ryan intends to hold the country hostage again -- to pay for the budget he wrote?!? 

How can anyone negotiate with someone this untrustworthy?

JoeJeffrey
JoeJeffrey

It seems likely the whole thing is simply part of Ryan's 2016 Presidential bid.  He has to keep the fanatics on the Right willing to vote for him in the primaries, so he's got to convince them he really still is the guy who proposed ending Medicare  and replacing it with a voucher system paying half the cost to seniors.  He really is the Ayn Rand fan he says he is -- except he takes is right-wing ultra-fanaticism with a dose of religion.

carolerae
carolerae

Am I the only person who remembers that the Shutdown agreement gave Obama the authority to raise the Debt Ceiling himself next time ?? A lot of people advertising otherwise, like the Press, are mistaken. The drama will be over the Vote, whether the House will let one happen, after Obama raises the debt ceiling. If they vote No, it means Yes, and they need a super majority to over turn Obama. It was very confusing so I see why no one read it"................

reallife
reallife

@carolerae  "It was very confusing so I see why no one read it"


you're expecting too much... if we had a smart and informed electorate, would we have a lying weasel as a president?




tom.litton
tom.litton

@caroleraeThe last agreement suspended the debt ceiling until Feb 7th.  


The agreement before that allowed Obama to raise the debt ceiling by a specific amount, but that was kind of a one shot deal.

RicardoRivera
RicardoRivera

In other words they will continue to do the tea party's bidding. I don't trust Ryan and I sure as hell won't fall for his tricks. Only people that should trust Ryan are the ones who enjoy the unfairness within the process. Other than that the rest of us must continue to expose them for what they are misinformation spreaders and obstructionist.

DavidStrayer
DavidStrayer

Paul Ryan, who is occasionally portrayed by right wing columnists as being a moderate, is a far, far right conservative nihilist.  


The destructive wing of the GOP wants government not to work.  They want to make it impossible for government to work, and have set about to implement that goal.  Everything else is either a smokescreen or sugar coating.  


They may claim to be all about fiscal austerity.  That is a lie.  They don't care one whit about fiscal responsibility: just look at their record when Bush2 was in office.  


They may claim to be the party of personal freedom.  That is also a lie.  For them, personal freedom only applies to men who want to become one-man armies and to the extremely wealthy (people and corporations).  


They may claim to be pro-life.  That is also a lie.  They don't care about life at all, and have no interest in the products of the pregnancies they so loudly want to protect.  They just want to control women's bodies to suit their prejudices about what women's roles should be.


They may claim to care about people who have trouble with the healthcare.gov website.  This is clearly also a lie.  If they really cared about people who have healthcare coverage issues, they'd present an alternative to Obamacare.  


In short, the GOP, or at least its Paul Ryan/Michele Bachmann/Sarah Palin/Rush Limbaugh/etc. wing, has one goal: to destroy government.

Irony
Irony

@SalingersGhost It's hardly a recent thing. Their fate was set in stone the moment they decided to tie their party to the voters the Democrats upset by supporting Civil Rights.

Think_again
Think_again

Time to put Ryan on the no-fly list. Big-time terrorists aim to take down the whole country to make a point.

CliffordSpencer
CliffordSpencer

Our ONLY jailed Secretary of the Veteran's Bureau was Charles Forbes!

He was sentenced, to Leavenworth, because he absconded with vet money intended for hospitals!

  Harding was president.

  Harding care?

  Our ONLY jailed Secretary of the Interior was Albert Fall!

  He let BIG OIL drill at the US NAVAL OIL RESERVE at Teapot Dome!

  Our ONLY president, that ordered our troops to fire upon our vets, was Hoover!

  Ever read about the BONUS ARMY march?

  Remember the Walter Reed scandal?

  Who was president?

  Expensive?

KristenOsgood-Rdesinski
KristenOsgood-Rdesinski

One of the other points that was raised in the article, and highlighted in the video at the end, was a temporary cut in military pensions (lower for those who retire around age 40 after 20 years of service). I found that the outrage being expressed left a bad taste in my mouth for a few reasons, including the fact that when the sequester and shut down occurred military personnel were not paid, putting them at risk of losing homes (not all live on base housing) along with other factors.


shapiro.len
shapiro.len

santa claus is bernie madoff and gw Bush is Rudolph,leading Santas way around all the slums,shelters,abandoned homes and cities, lines for unemployment,welfare,food stamps and food banks.  Santa doesn't want to see them all. Santa wants to go down the chimneys of the rich and give them all the same gift- a big bag just like he has,to store away all their off-shore bankbooks,all their lists of profits,laidoff workers,jobs outsourced, and bought and paid for politicians,judges,governors, tea partyers.  
Santa has only one problem- every year he needs a bigger bag.

bwweinstein
bwweinstein

" . . . decide what we want to get out of the debt limit debate . . ."  Well, Paul, how about a functioning country that meets its legal financial obligations? 

drudown
drudown

I see. 


As if the GOP’s pre-meditated “shut down” wasn’t enough probative evidence for any undecided or independent voter of the Tea Party-led GOP’s “true intentions” regarding the “end game” for “entitlement reform” (read: starve the State of revenue via a “no new taxes, ever” categorical imperative to use as a pretext to “cut social programs”), the very notion that the GOP Congress
cites some illusory Debt Ceiling Act as somehow “constraining” the State’s
ability to perform its end of the Social Contract underscores the unprecedented
abrogation of even a reasonable construction of the Constitution’s plain
meaning? Restated, the GOP Congress has NO self-perceived "discretion" to "cite the will of its [alleged] conservative base" [read: Foreign money puppeteer] that WANTS the Congress to"shut down" and ultimately "default"... isn't that true? 
If you are a PUBLIC SERVANT of the People, how, pray tell, is WILLFULLY REFUSING to follow the PLAIN MEANING of Article I, Section 8 to RAISE REVENUE and more "legal" than "relying" on a "playbook" to THWART duly enacted Federal LAW (e.g., ACA) not actionable by the DOJ or the Several States? Just curious. Moreover, how does that GOP "pledge" to NOT "raise taxes" legal if, like the "made up" Debt Ceiling Act, it purports to "limit" the Congress' EXPRESS FUNCTION? That is nothing short of absurd. 
Just as there is no reference whatsoever to “made-up Filibusters” in the Constitution (i.e., used by the GOP trying to nullify the express Appointment Power), so too, does the GOP Congress attempt to cite some “made up Debt Ceiling Act” in the its ongoing attempt to advance FOREIGN-funded LOBBYIST agendas with an eye toward WEAKENING the United States.
Sorry, it is time for the (once mighty) Media to REQUIRE the GOP to cite the LEGAL AUTHORITY upon which it purports to rely upon in nullifying the express language of Article I, Section 8 REQUIRING the Congress exercise its PLENARY power to RAISE REVENUE.
It is TIME FOR DEMOCRATIC MEMBERS OF CONGRESS to immediately place the burden on the GOP by moving to ABOLISH the “Debt Ceiling Act”, to END “Sequestration” and COLLECT INCOME TAXES from US Corporations…not "shut down" the Government via UNLAWFUL means, not “reform” the Tax Code to make us more insolvent and (drumroll, please) purportedly incapable of “funding” the EPA, IRS and Federal Court system, et al.  
At what point does our system of Checks and Balances create an affirmative duty to investigate lobbyist-driven "playbooks" to thwart duly enacted Federal law and fiscally prudent Budgetary policy? [see, e.g., GOP "conspiracy" to “abolish the ACA” via UNLAWFUL Legislative Veto power per INS v. Chadha, (1983) 462 U.S. 919] 

Tell me, what relevance does "ideology" have to do with COST/BENEFIT of State Action have to do with advancing the legitimate interests of the People? If the ACA confers the projected savings (per CBO and other independent studies) and the EVIDENCE that Health Care costs have SLOWED to the their LOWEST levels in decades….why is that not enough to implement the ACA in ALL of the Several States? It cannot be both. The people trying to "derail" the ACA cannot cite the "inconvenience" of not being able to keep their "pre-ACA" plan without (1) reconciling the EVIDENCE Health Care costs are going LOWER and (2) BALANCING the TRILLIONS of saving over the next 100+ years to the Treasury. 
Yes or no?
"Not merely the idols fell, but also the habit of faith in their agendas." - Henry Adams

shapiro.len
shapiro.len

what america fails at is significant- it costs lives. Metro North in NYS crashes when an engineer nods off and there is no automatic braking system. federal inspectors are sent to examine the system after people died ,injured and taken to hospitals. america fails at transportation- an essential component of a free society. It fails at education as well, another necessary part of a free society and it fails to tax fairly all its citizens,giving the most favored treatment to the least deserving- the richest.  Tax breaks to ship jobs OUT of the USA, down with unions, govt protections against corruption on wall street, a decent minimum wage, a decent retirement and medical insurance that doesn't bleed you dry. 

drudown
drudown

@shapiro.len 

Sounds like the "remedy" for the purported shortfalls that you cite would be a large infusion of tax revenue to improve, inter alia, (1) transportation; (2) education; (3) improving infrastructure; (4) to provide inducements to Corporations to bring jobs back to the USA; (5) improve efficacy and bolster regulatory oversight of Capital Markets, Interstate Commerce and Industrial activities; (6) raise minimum wage; and (7) fund Entitlements. 


Hmm…where would that missing revenue come from.


Wait. I have it!


Corporations need to PAY THEIR PRO RATA SHARE OF INCOME TAX in order to comport with the Equal Protection Clause. 

shapiro.len
shapiro.len

was scrooge right about xmas? is xmas a humbug?? is it a fraud and a lie,just another and older ponzi scheme?

one looks at the faces of paul ryan and m.mcconnell and definitely thinks,YES!

America the ugly- filled with slums,abandoned homes foreclosed by crooked banks,kids and their moms living in shelters,cars and vans,dumpy motels, or with relatives not happy to share the pain.

america is the land of scrooge- where govt. turns its back on the worst off amongst us.Govt cuts food stamps and refuses to help the unemployed. No jobs creation in ugly america,real jobs with decent pay to raise a family, and have self-esteem.



notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

Think it was premeditated.  Get the Democrats, who continue to be the Charlie Brown in the football kicking game, to go forward with some sort of cuts to their favored programs, like unemployment.   Get them sort of on board with it, then push the envelope a little bit further by then saying, “oh never mind, our right wing loons, oops, friends won’t vote for that”.  In other words, it is just a new way of getting the Dems to auction against themselves, which they showed especially in the health care act that they will do this (why we don’t have single payer!).  I wish that the President and his backers would get a backbone.  Instead of conceding they should be adding things every time the Republicans ask for a cut.  You want a 10% cut, fine, reduced Social security begins at 60, not 62.    You cannot negotiate with only things to lose!  Retaining a program is not a win.  It is status quo.  Adding is a win.  Detracting is a loss.  Simple negotiations.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

I wonder if he's positioning himself to take Speakership from Boehner.  Let Boehner be the one who rebukes the Tea Party and Paul Ryan just did what he was ordered to do like a good soldier so Boehner gets the fall on the Budget compromise as well.

Clumsy attempt if that's what it is.

Irony
Irony

@dectra@JohnNagelFlag as spam. That's what it is, and if enough people did it the posts would be deleted.

internetfavs
internetfavs

smart move ryan, that really helps!


internetfavs.com

sacredh
sacredh

If I was a cynic, I might think that Obama would welcome some serious drama generated by the tea party about threats of a default to improve his poll numbers. The threat of a default would overshadow the inept rollout of the ACA. In the long run, I think the ACA is going to be a very popular program and will determine Obama's legacy. On the flip side, Ryan damaged his image with the rabid base by compromising with the democrats on the budget deal. A fight over the debt limit is a way to repair some of that damage although it will hurt the GOP brand again.

dectra
dectra

@outsider

yes, because the Teabagger lead House of Represntatives have done such a BANG UP bit of work on the platform they ran on : Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.................

The baggers have stopped any serrious attempt to get the economy back on track for Years.

Time to place the blame where it belongs, teabagger.

sacredh
sacredh

@dectra, I'm sure it's not a problem. Outsider appreciates other brothers-in-arms as much as we all do.

outsider
outsider

@sacredh 


With his empty threats, he's also damaged his brand with moderate Americans too. 


He really is a fool. 

reallife
reallife

@dectra @sacredh no problem... we understand... you're a product of a liberal education system... can't expect much



dectra
dectra

@reallife

You, of course, retort with insults to someone you've never met. You have no clue as to what my education was based on. But then again, becuase it's not lockstep with the Tbaggers / GOP, I must therefore, (in your mind) be "liberal'.

RL, your stupidity is legendary.



And you wonder why I and others don't support the GOP anymore.