If you thought the political fighting and deal making in Washington was over with the passage of the “fiscal cliff” deal, then guess again. It looks like Congress will be taking up the debt ceiling next month, which should, based on his track record, give Speaker John Boehner another chance to capitulate President Obama and company:
President Barack Obama scheduled another so-called “fiscal cliff” crisis for February by announcing late Jan. 1 he would refuse to negotiate any curbs on his use of the nation’s maxed-out credit card.
“I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up through the laws that they passed,” he claimed during a late-night appearance on the last-minute resolution to the December 2012 fiscal cliff.
However, the GOP-led Congress wants to use its authority over the nation’s debt ceiling to pressure Obama to shrink future spending, not to repudiate existing debts.
While he gave the White House nearly everything it wanted, Boehner announced yesterday that House Republicans would use “2013 to hold the president accountable for the ‘balanced’ approach he promised, meaning significant spending cuts and reforms to the entitlement programs that are driving our country deeper and deeper into debt.”
It didn’t go so well the last time Boehner tried to negoiate a deal on the debt ceiling. He was far too willing to trade revenue increases as part of a larger deal. Even though a “grand bargain” fell through, Boehner did manage to get $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts. But when push came to shove, Boehner demanded that Congress undo nearly all of the sequestration cuts in the “fiscal cliff” deal.
The talk about the debt ceiling and spending cuts sounds good on the surface, but Boehner, who has been a poor Speaker, has showed that he can’t live up to it.