“The president’s speech was notable only for what he did not say: ‘I will veto the Boehner bill.’…

“By not threatening a veto of the Boehner bill, the president leaves the door open to signing it.

“The question now is whether 218 House Republicans can vote for and pass the Boehner bill before the president regains his footing.”

“Well aware of conservative skepticism, Boehner and other GOP leaders inserted a provision that would call for a vote on a balanced budget amendment later this year. It didn’t fly. ‘Why do we need to increase debt $2.4 trillion just to schedule a vote on the BBA?’ asks one GOP aide. ‘It’s a pretty lame attempt to appease the Tea Party that gave Boehner the majority — not a serious effort to pass a balanced budget amendment.’

“The commission is no more popular. ‘We’ve already had 17 commissions over three decades and $13 trillion in new debt,’ tweeted Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, a leading supporter of Cut, Cap and Balance. ‘No more commissions.’

“Twelve Republican senators and 39 Republican representatives have signed a pledge not to vote for a debt-ceiling increase without the key elements of Cut, Cap and Balance. When a Senate GOP aide was asked whether it will require 60 votes to pass the debt bill, he responded, ‘I think one of our guys who signed the Cut, Cap and Balance pledge would force it to be 60.’ In other words, Republicans might end up filibustering themselves.”

“The truth is that the United States doesn’t need, and shouldn’t have, a debt ceiling. Every other democratic country, with the exception of Denmark, does fine without one. There’s no debt limit in the Constitution. And, if Congress really wants to hold down government debt, it already has a way to do so that doesn’t risk economic chaos—namely, the annual budgeting process. The only reason we need to lift the debt ceiling, after all, is to pay for spending that Congress has already authorized. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, we’ll face an absurd scenario in which Congress will have ordered the President to execute two laws that are flatly at odds with each other. If he obeys the debt ceiling, he cannot spend the money that Congress has told him to spend, which is why most government functions will be shut down. Yet if he spends the money as Congress has authorized him to he’ll end up violating the debt ceiling…

“One argument you hear for having a debt ceiling is that it’s useful as what the political theorist Jon Elster calls a ‘precommitment device’—a way of keeping ourselves from acting recklessly in the future, like Ulysses protecting himself from the Sirens by having himself bound to the mast. As precommitment devices go, however, the debt limit is both too weak and too strong. It’s too weak because Congress can simply vote to lift it, as it has done more than seventy times in the past fifty years. But it’s too strong because its negative consequences (default, higher interest rates, financial turmoil) are disastrously out of proportion to the behavior it’s trying to regulate. For the U.S. to default now, when investors are happily lending it money at exceedingly reasonable rates, would be akin to shooting yourself in the head for failing to follow your diet.”

“Defaulting on our obligations is a reckless and irresponsible outcome to this debate. And Republican leaders say that they agree we must avoid default. But the new approach that Speaker Boehner unveiled today, which would temporarily extend the debt ceiling in exchange for spending cuts, would force us to once again face the threat of default just six months from now. In other words, it doesn’t solve the problem…

“History is scattered with the stories of those who held fast to rigid ideologies and refused to listen to those who disagreed. But those are not the Americans we remember. We remember the Americans who put country above self, and set personal grievances aside for the greater good. We remember the Americans who held this country together during its most difficult hours; who put aside pride and party to form a more perfect union.

“That’s who we remember. That’s who we need to be right now. The entire world is watching.”

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“The sad truth is that the president wanted a blank check six months ago, and he wants a blank check today. That is just not going to happen.

“You see, there is no stalemate in Congress. The House has passed a bill to raise the debt limit with bipartisan support. And this week, while the Senate is struggling to pass a bill filled with phony accounting and Washington gimmicks, we will pass another bill – one that was developed with the support of the bipartisan leadership of the U.S. Senate…

“You know, I’ve always believed, the bigger government, the smaller the people. And right now, we have a government so big and so expensive it’s sapping the drive of our people and keeping our economy from running at full capacity.

“The solution to this crisis is not complicated: if you’re spending more money than you’re taking in, you need to spend less of it.”

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