Boehner to Obama: Debt Ceiling Is ‘My Leverage’

Tuesday, 27 Nov 2012 07:48 AM

By Martin Gould

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The increase in the nation’s debt limit is the Republicans’ “leverage” in discussions about wider fiscal issues, House Speaker John Boehner has told President Barack Obama.

“There is a price for everything,” Boehner told the president during a Nov. 16 meeting with the president on ways to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” Politico reported on Tuesday.

But Democrats told the web site that the GOP should not expect anything in return for agreeing to an increase in the debt. “Do you really think we would come up with a $4 trillion grand bargain and then try to find another $1 trillion in cuts to offset a debt ceiling increase? I don’t think so,” one unidentified Senate aid said.

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The battle over the debt ceiling comes less than two years after the last time the issue was on the table. That resulted in a bitter fight between the two parties that consumed much political energy during the summer of 2011.

This time the issue is further complicated by the looming financial crisis that experts say would be inevitable if ways are not found to avert the so-called cliff. That is the term that has been used to describe the effect of ending Bush-era tax breaks and the imposition of $1.1 trillion of across-the-board cuts agreed by the parties during the last debt negotiations. Both are due to go into effect on Jan. 1.

Some Republicans believe the cliff and the ceiling should be dealt with separately. “The more you try to jam in a lame duck, the more complicated the deal gets and the more likely we fail,” former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin told Politico.

But others believe the party has more to gain by combining them. “If you put together some sort of gerrymandered deal, a little change here and there, … that is not going to be what Republicans will view as a credible package,” said Steve Bell, the senior director of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

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