Short-term debt-limit hike strategy gaining steam, GOP unity

posted at 9:21 am on October 10, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Paul Ryan and John Boehner have convinced their caucus to propose a clean but short-term hike in the debt ceiling in exchange for negotiations on entitlement and budget reform, the Wall Street Journal reported last night.  The offer would allow both sides to cool off and claim some victory while leaving the shutdown in place until a larger agreement can be reached.  And this time, it looks like the GOP has achieved some unity on their strategy:

The partisan logjam that has paralyzed the capital showed signs of easing Wednesday, as conservative Republicans warmed to the idea of a short-term increase in the country’s borrowing limit and House GOP leaders prepared for their first meeting with President Barack Obama since the government shutdown began.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, outlined a plan Wednesday to fellow conservatives to extend the nation’s borrowing limit for four to six weeks, paired with a framework for broader deficit-reduction talks, according to lawmakers briefed on the proposal. The greater the spending reduction the talks produced, the longer the next extension of the debt ceiling would be under Mr. Ryan’s plan.

Top House Republicans prepared to head to the White House Thursday to discuss the issues underlying the standoff that has resulted in the nine-day partial government shutdown and that now threatens the country’s ability to borrow.

The White House said the session isn’t a negotiation, in keeping with Mr. Obama’s demand that lawmakers raise the debt ceiling and fully reopen the government without conditions before policy talks are held. But the meeting may allow House Republicans to say they had a policy conversation with the president, which they have been saying is a condition of resolving the impasse.

New Townhall editor Conn Carroll reports that Ryan and Boehner have new support for this compromise plan from the Heritage Foundation and FreedomWorks. Both groups pushed hard for the “defund” strategy that split the GOP in September:

Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham, one of the architects of the Defund Obamacare campaign, said yesterday that Republicans should give President Obama a clean debt limit hike so conservatives can focus on Obamacare and the government shutdown instead.

“No, we should raise the debt limit,” Needham told a Christian Science Monitor breakfast Wednesday. “My tactic is to focus on the CR,” he said.

The Washington Examiner‘s Byron York reports that fellow Defund activists at FreedomWorks are also on board for a clean debt limit hike that shifts focus back to the government shutdown debate.

And it does appear House Republican Leadership might do just that…although for different reasons.

Rep. Jack Kingston tells the Washington Examiner’s Susan Ferrechio that the newfound consensus is the big story:

The change in hallway conversations, press conference declarations and op-ed pieces suggests that Republican goals in the debate over government funding and the debt ceiling is shifting from repealing the health care law to lowering the nation’s staggering debt and deficit.

“I think that there is a developing consensus that this is a lot bigger than an Obamacare discussion,” Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., told the Washington Examiner Wednesday.

The re-emergence of Paul Ryan as a leader in the budget impasse made the difference in strategic thinking:

One of the earliest indications Wednesday that Republicans were prepared to move beyond the Obamacare fight was a Wall Street Journal op-ed written by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., headlined “Here’s How We Can End This Stalemate.” Ryan wrote extensively about cutting spending and reforming entitlement programs without once mentioning Obamacare.

While the Obamacare defunding fight was driven by about 60 House conservatives and a handful of Republican senators, there is much broader support among Republican lawmakers for a deal that would avoid another financial crisis and help the GOP secure some of its top budget priorities.

The defunding strategy is dead, and it had no realistic chance of success as long as Harry Reid controlled the Senate and Barack Obama is President.  The groundswell of public opinion hasn’t turned against ObamaCare as much as it has against Washington, and in fact the shutdown fight arguably has partially eclipsed the utter collapse of the ACA exchanges.  Republicans need to look for ways to make gains on policies that are achievable in the short run, and allow ObamaCare to speak for its ruinous self at this point.  It looks like Heritage and FreedomWorks have finally agreed on those points, and perhaps most Republicans on Capitol Hill too:

“There is a school of thought that now that no one can get health care through the exchanges, maybe we should let Obamacare crash under its own weight,” Kingston said. “I think there is some discussion along that line.”

The GOP doesn’t have any choice now but to do that, as long as Democrats refuse to delay or end ObamaCare — and they’ll own the consequences for that in 2014.

Update: Added the link I forgot to include to the WSJ story; thanks to Jeryl Bier for the heads-up.

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First time I’ve had to say this in 20+ years, but forget entitlement reform. Let’s not even go there. Forget tax reform. Let’s not even go there. Forget it all.

Right now, all that matters is:
1) getting back to a normal budgeting process which involves setting regulations and funding levels for individual departments, AND
2) keeping the hhs department unfunded until all sides can agree on a new law that replaces obamacare (having to compromise is a given)
3) keeping the irs department unfunded until we get the compromise on obamacare and some acceptable resolution to the various corruption scandals.

Anything less, and I think the GOP folds as a party.

The base has been waiting for 5 years now for the GOP to show some backbone on anything…all we’ve gotten is tiny sparks here and there which has emboldened the democrats to run rip-shod over our democracy. Fight now or forever give up the mantle.

deploylinux on October 10, 2013 at 1:41 PM

This move by Boehner/Cantor deserves the praise and support of all House GOP members:

1. It insulates GOP from being accused of wanting a default
2. It does NOT re-open the government
3. There will be sufficient policy riders in the final DL – whether it is dealing with Obamacare, Keystone pipeline etc
4. Gets miles ahead of Reid and the Senate RATS on who REALLY wants a default – whichever body passes a DL extension first will have the higher moral posture; Reid is constrained by Senate rules; Boehner is not.
5. Reinforces improved public image that GOP is being the adult, the reasonable player
7. It is already infuriating Obama and his handmaidens.
8. It is forcing the Administration into escalating their already ridiculous, hyperbolic rhetoric — now trying to turn this into a “birther” issue

matthew8787 on October 10, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Debt ceiling increases:

Under Bush:

06.28.02: $450 billion (P.L. 107-199)

05.27.03: $984 billion (P.L. 108-24)

11.19.04: $800 billion (P.L. 108-415)

03.20.06: $781 billion (P.L. 109-182)

09.27.07: $850 billion (P.L. 110-91)

07.30.08: $800 billion (P.L. 110-289)

10.03.08: $700 billion (P.L. 110-343)

For those of you keeping score at home, that totals to $5.365 trillion in debt ceiling increases over a span of 8 years.

Under Obama:

02.17.09: $789 billion (P.L. 111-5)

12.28.09: $290 billion (P.L. 111-123)

02.12.10: $1.9 trillion (P.L. 111-139)

On 2 August 2011, President Obama signed the Budget Control Act of 2011 into law, which increased the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion in three stages. Upon his signature, the debt ceiling was increased by $400 billion. The second tranche of $500 billion was triggered on 22 September 2011. On 01.12.12, presidential certification triggered a third, $1.2 trillion increase on 28 January 2012.

Federal debt reached its limit on 12.31.12. ‘Extraordinary measures’ were estimated to allow payment of government obligations until mid-February or early March 2013. H.R. 325, which suspended the debt limit until 19 May 2013, was passed by the House on 01.23.12 and by the Senate on 01.31.13. Obama signed it into law on 02.04.13.

Again, for those keeping score at home, that adds up to $5.929 trillion in debt ceiling increases and ‘extraordinary measures’ on Obama’s watch, which has lasted 4 years, 8 months, and 21 days so far. This figure does not count the $550 billion added through the ‘extraordinary measures’ taken by Treasury since the debt ceiling actually was hit on 19 May 2013.

To repeat, during the 8 years of the irresponsible Bush administration, there were $5.365 trillion in debt ceiling increases. So far under the Obama administration, there have been $5.929 trillion in debt ceiling increases.

Resist We Much on October 10, 2013 at 2:38 PM

It’s pretty amazing how simple it is for the people you look up to for opinions to get you arguing emphatically against your own interests. Genius really.

Genuine on October 10, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Phuck you, obama rooster sucker. You know who is against my interest…you and your fellow phucktards in the democrat party.

HumpBot Salvation on October 10, 2013 at 2:40 PM

Has Townhall contracted their website maintenance out to Obamacare techies? It’s been crashing a lot today.

Well, at the risk of a double post…

Defund Obamacare, this is the hill to have the the fight.

sauldalinsky on October 10, 2013 at 2:43 PM

matthew8787 on October 10, 2013 at 2:19 PM


jimver on October 10, 2013 at 2:50 PM

2) keeping the hhs department unfunded until all sides can agree on a new law that replaces obamacare (having to compromise is a given)
3) keeping the irs department unfunded until we get the compromise on obamacare and some acceptable resolution to the various corruption scandals.


ignatzk on October 10, 2013 at 2:57 PM

I believe this is shrewd move by the House leadership. Having Wall Street throw a hissy fit while the House is trying to teach the White House and Senate a lesson on constitutional authority over the government’s checkbook would not help the situation. Postpone the debt ceiling debate for a while and keep the government shutdown going until the White House and Senate capitulate on refusing to negotiate with the people’s direct representatives in government. Good move Boehner as it keeps Obama’s and the Dem’s petulance on full display for all to see.

mpthompson on October 10, 2013 at 4:33 PM