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Is John Boehner Going To Break His Promise Not To Default On Our Debt?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 2, 2013

Greg Sargent points out something that is so dangerous to the GOP Suicide Caucus that it’s got Republican apologists buzzing in the comments thread for Sargent’s post, trying everything they can to distract from it (italics are Sargent’s, bolding is mine):

It is the way Republicans themselves have defined the terms of the debate — specifically, what counts as “leverage” for them, and the ”concessions” they want from Dems – that strongly argues for Dems not to give any ground whatsoever, no matter what.

Here’s why: We don’t even know whether Republicans are actually prepared to allow default if Democrats don’t give them what they want. John Boehner has already conceded Republicans won’t allow default because: “I’m not going to risk the full faith and credit of the federal government.” Yet Ryan claims the debt limit gives Republicans leverage, anyway. But why? If Republicans are not prepared to actually default, why should Democrats give them anything in exchange for averting it? And if they are prepared to allow default — which Boehner himself defines as placing the country’s full faith and credit in jeopardy — then how can Democrats give them anything without rewarding and legitimizing a strategy based explicitly on a deliberate threat to unleash massive economic havoc if Dems don’t give Republicans what they want?

The House has the votes, right now, to pass a clean CR and end the shutdown. The Hastert Rule is no obstacle – it’s not even a real rule that requires a vote to ignore. Even if Boehner fears losing his speakership — as if he hasn’t already lost it in all but name — he can hang onto his seat and wait as the Suicide Caucus rips itself to shreds, if for no other reason than that the big business leaders who are aghast at the shutdown and at the prospect of a national default would likely dump tens of millions into his campaign coffers just to keep his seat from falling to a teabagger.

5 Responses to “Is John Boehner Going To Break His Promise Not To Default On Our Debt?”

  1. Charles II said

    The Dems could force a vote with a discharge petition. While that would allow 30 days of havoc, in practice, it would force a Republican cave.

    • Well, well, it looks like the discharge petition option just might work:

      Dems have hit on a way to use a “discharge petition,” which forces a House vote if a majority of Representatives signs it, to try to force the issue. Previously, it was thought this could not work, because a discharge petition takes 30 legislative days to ripen, so if this were tried with the clean CR that passed the Senate, this couldn’t bear fruit until some time in November.

      But now House Democrats say they have found a previously filed bill to use as a discharge petition — one that would fund the government at sequester levels.

      The bill in question is the “Government Shutdown Prevention Act,” which was introduced in March by GOP Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma. As the Congressman’s release describes it:

      If Congress fails to approve a budget by the end of each fiscal year, the Government Shutdown Prevention Act would ensure that all operations remain running normally without any interruption of services by automatically triggering a continuing resolution (CR) or short-term, stop-gap spending device. The bill creates an automatic CR for any regular appropriations bill not completed before the end of the fiscal year. After the first 120 days, auto-CR funding would be reduced by one percentage point and would continue to be reduced by that margin every 90 days.

      This afternoon, Dem Reps. Chris Van Hollen and George Miller will announce that they are introducing a discharge petition for the Lankford bill. They will discuss the procedural ins and outs of this move. The upshot: Once the petition is filed, they will begin rounding up signatures from both Democrats and Republicans. If they can get 218 signatures, a House vote to reopen the government will happen.

      The real beauty here is that once the Dems got the 218 signatures needed to force a discharge of this bill, they will then use a procedural move to replace the Lankford bill with an amendment: A clean CR. That means that this would fund the government without making into law the Lankford bill’s periodic one-percent reductions in spending.

      If the House Dems can pull this off, the shutdown might be over soon. We’ll then see if the GOP has the stomach for a fight over the debt ceiling.

      • Charles II said

        It’s always risky to rely on amendments when you’re the minority party. The GOP might easily give them the 20 votes they need for Lankford, but not those same votes for a clean CR. Then the Senate would have to decide whether it will accept a 90 day clean CR with subsequent reduction when the Pubs refuse to produce a budget. At that point, it’s likely that the Manchins and the Heitkamps can be rolled.

      • If it doesn’t work, this will show that the “moderate” Republicans are either liars or cowards — or both. And it’s something their Democratic challengers can use against them next year.

  2. The problem with using a discharge petition is that the debt ceiling crisis will hit well before then. And if the furlough lasts more than 30 days, all currently furloughed Federal employees are automatically let go via reduction-in-force. For the discharge petition gambit to be useful, it would have had to have been deployed a month ago, and there probably weren’t yet enough Republicans willing to stick their necks out to sign it.

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