Boehner’s bluff

By Robert Romano — Here we go again.

Speaking to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation 2012 Fiscal Summit on May 15 , House Speaker John Boehner once again called for offsetting spending cuts in return for increasing the $16.394 trillion debt ceiling later this year.

This follows the failed attempt in 2011 to do precisely the same thing.

All the American people got in return for the $2.1 trillion increase in the borrowing limit, the largest such hike in the nation’s history, was a slight reduction in the growth rate of spending via sequestration — which Congress is busy crafting legislation to overturn — and the ill-fated Supercommittee that achieved exactly nothing.

Well, that’s not fair. We did lose our Triple-A credit rating. And the $15.6 trillion debt is now larger than the entire $15.4 trillion economy.

But besides the downsides, last year’s debt deal produced nothing positive whatsoever. No entitlement reform. No tax code simplification. No sizable spending cuts. No balanced budget. No spending cap.

Which, if Republicans never had any intention of achieving real spending cuts and substantially reducing the size of the $3.7 trillion budget, they should have just rejected the concept of using the debt ceiling as leverage in the first place.

Instead, after the 2010 election, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News’ Brett Baier that the debt ceiling “will not be [raised] without some strings attached, if it happens, because they’re going to have to seriously address spending and debt.”

McConnell added, “The American people want it, they expect it. That was a big issue in yesterday’s election.”

Later on, Boehner, this time speaking to the Economic Club of New York, said, “Without significant spending cuts and reforms to reduce our debt, there will be no debt limit increase. And the cuts should be greater than the accompanying increase in debt authority the president is given. We should be talking about cuts of trillions, not just billions.”

Of course, none of that ever happened.

But now Boehner is at it again. At the May 15 Fiscal Summit he said, “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 right now to force the elected leadership of this country to solve our structural fiscal imbalance.”

Okay, fine. But this time let’s dispense with the bull.

When the House cedes its constitutional power of the purse to a grand committee with no mandate that then achieves nothing, it makes it look like the GOP was bamboozled.

When House Republicans pretend that mere reductions in the growth rate of spending are “cuts,” they take actual cuts to the budget off of the table. Such proposals only undermine the GOP’s credibility, and limit the range of proposals that might be considered.

And when Republicans of both chambers concede the false talking point that the nation would default on its debts if the debt ceiling were not raised, they take their valuable leverage off of the table.

In fact, so long as the Treasury uses existing revenue to make interest payments on the debt, and refinances existing debt up to the limit, we would never default.

That’s the line Republicans must take in order to keep their credible threat on the table. If Boehner truly wants to achieve significant reforms this time — and restore confidence in the House Republican majority — Obama and Reid have to actually believe that the House will allow the debt ceiling to be reached.

Else, they will just call Boehner’s bluff. And taxpayers will once again be left with the bill.

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government.

This article has 14 comments
  • J42ERRY 16.05.2012 1:47 PM

    hey boner beohner what part of stop the damn spending don’t you get

  • Lrowe 16.05.2012 2:46 PM

    He’ll hang tight for a while, then talk “compromise,” then start uncontrollably balling like a new born baby as he explains his complete & total capitulation….

  • Christianitalian 16.05.2012 3:27 PM

    Boehner’s spinless we need to fire him 1st chance we get. We need to get somone in there that says enough is enough mr president you already spent more than every president before you in 3 years your not getting another penny. Take care of the military and Gov’t essentials and let the rest of Gov’yt fall apart and close shop. Let the states do there jobs that the federal Gov’t has stolen and inslaved U.S. with new laws and regulations that they dont even understand. Exampe IRS, EPA & obama care just to name a few.

  • kopen 16.05.2012 4:35 PM

    Here we go again .. does any one in Congress have the  best interest of this Nation on their radar screen ? .. Too much talk and no action that does anything but kick the can down the road  .. well we have come to the end of the road the “can,” can’t go any further .. CUT SPENDING .. CUT TAXES .. CUT REGULATIONS .. then buy a ticket to any muslum country he chooses for Obama and Co.

  • copakeman 16.05.2012 4:39 PM

    more bs. the last temporary budget, resulted in a commitee to come up with spending cuts, if the comittee failed, gigantic defense dept cuts were to be automatically instituted. the comittee’s suggestions failed (surprise). defense cuts took place without any one to take the blame. how convinient for this administration. boehner talked big then and scewed our country. bohner should what our constitution calls for the house to do, PRESENT A BUDGET, not the president, but the house. it has been our current law for over 200 years. wake up boehner, read our constitution and follow it. if nothing gets passed, place the blame on the ones who stonewall the budget, the democrat/socialist/communist/rinos in congress and this administration. you are 3rd in line for our presidency, its time to act like you really are a leader or step down.

  • copakeman 16.05.2012 4:40 PM

    the current definition:    compromise = surrender

  • markinidaho 16.05.2012 4:45 PM

    We need an interviewer that will respond to Boehner or McConnell when they use the “what Americans want” like this:  “With all due respect, Mr. (Boehner) (McConnell) what Americans want is for you to grow a pair of balls and tell the liberals “no” when they whine about raising the debt ceiling.  Can you do that?”

  • Willip562 16.05.2012 5:24 PM

    I agree with one exception. The Congress is not kicking the can down the road they are kicking Democracy down the road.

  • allosaur 16.05.2012 7:10 PM

     I like to call him Boo-Hoo Beohner, and I am a Libertarian who leans hard to the right, according to some test I took on the Internet about a year ago.  Thought it was the other way around up until then.

  • julian8 17.05.2012 1:13 AM

    When the time comes for Boehner to stand up, that ship has sailed.  I am beginning to think they put him in just so they would have someone to blame for their inaction.  He showed over Christmas break he does not have what it takes to lead and yet they did nothing about it. 

  • nanny 17.05.2012 4:20 PM

    I have ZERO FAITH IN THE SPEAKER OR McConnell they have ZERO COURAGE or enough LOVE OF COUNTRY OR OUR CONSTTITUTION TO STAND FIRM ON ANYTHING! IT IS AND WILL BE BECAUSE OF OUR LEADERS IN Washington that our ONCE NATION WILL FALL. These people have forgot what they were sent to Washington to do, they forgot what this Nation was founded on and it is up to US AS A PEOPLE TO REMIND THEM!! FOR IF WE DO NOT REMEMBER, IF WE CONTINUE TO SIT ON OUR HANDS, CLOSE OUR EYES TO THE TRUTH, THERE IS NO HOPE FOR THIS NATION.

  • Mkashmania3883 20.05.2012 11:39 AM

    There not a whole lot of good poker plays on the GOP side, lest of all speaker Boehner, who has absolutely no spine, he’s is, in my opinion, should give up his leadership.
    Obama & Reid already won this, and they know it. SAD & DISGUSTED.

  • Seniorsquadldr 24.05.2012 8:53 AM

    I once thought and said that I believed, bo had good stuff on boner. That may still be true, but I now believe that boner is a world class coward. He is representative of all republican establishment types. They are all progs and cowards. Time to remove the gop from american political life. Send them home to the dnc. Support the Tea Party Patriots. Save your children and grandchildren from slavery to the STATE.

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