House Speaker John Boehner says he will use the debate over the debt limit this fall to gain political leverage and demand spending cuts in what he described is likely to be a "whale of a fight" over the federal budget.
"The president doesn't think this is fair, thinks I'm being difficult to deal with," Boehner said Monday at a fundraiser in Idaho for fellow Republican Rep. Mike Simpson. "But I'll say this: It may be unfair, but what I'm trying to do here is to leverage the political process to produce more change than what it would produce if left to its own devices."
"We're going to have a whale of a fight," he added, according to the Idaho Statesman
On the same day Boehner was speaking in Idaho, reports The New York Times
, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned him in a letter that unless Congress raised the debt ceiling the government would not be able to pay all of its bills in October.
"Congress should act as soon as possible to protect America's good credit by extending normal borrowing authority well before any risk of default becomes imminent," Lew wrote.
"Based on our latest estimates, extraordinary measures are projected to be exhausted in the middle of October," Lew continued in his letter. At that point, the United States will have reached the limit of its borrowing authority, and Treasury would be left to fund the government with only the cash we have on hand any given day."
At the same time, Boehner got another stern warning from the White House that there will be no negotiations over the debt limit.
"Let me reiterate what our position is, and it is unequivocal," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Monday, according to the Times
. "We will not negotiate with Republicans in Congress over Congress' responsibility to pay the bills that Congress has racked up, period."
Undeterred, Boehner told the Idaho contributors at the Simpson fundraiser that he expects a hard, and possibly long, fight with the administration.
"I wish I could tell you it was going to be pretty and polite, and it would all be finished a month before we'd ever get to the debt ceiling," he said. "Sorry, it just doesn't work that way
. If this were easy to do, somebody over the last 20 or 30 years would have gotten it done."
But he added, "We're going to do it this fall."
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