The Republican co-chair of the White House’s fiscal commission predicted this morning that his controversial recommendations for reducing long-term deficits will have a real opportunity to become enacted next year, when the nation brushes up against its debt ceiling, and newly elected Republicans threaten to send the country into default.
“I can’t wait for the blood bath in April,” said Alan Simpson at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast roundtable with reporters this morning. “It won’t matter whether two of us have signed this or 14 or 18. When debt limit time comes, they’re going to look around and say, ‘What in the hell do we do now? We’ve got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give ‘em a piece of meat, real meat, off of this package.’ And boy the bloodbath will be extraordinary.”
Here’s a primer on the coming legislative fight over raising the national debt limit.
Yesterday, Republican leaders, including soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner and NRCC chairman Pete Sessions made it clear that the the GOP will attempt to tie increasing the debt limit to spending cuts.
“We’re going to have to deal with it as adults,” Boehner said at a leadership press conference. “Whether we like it or not, the federal government has obligations and we have obligations on our part.”
“Our understanding, as a majority, we have a debt limit issue,” Sessions told reporters. “The United States must pay its debts.”
“My sense is when you’re out spending wildly and then you’re willing to raise the debt limit, that’s a problem,” Sesssions said. “When you are with a comprehensive plan, including a budget that clearly lays out priorities and expectations of performance, then say you have to deal with what is there, is a very responsible position.”
Sessions statement suggests that Republican members will, like Simpson hopes, not vote for an increase in the debt ceiling without major spending cuts.
Neither Simpson nor his Democratic colleague Erskine Bowles would place their plan, which has been called a right-leaning plan by liberal commissioner Jan Schakowsky, on an ideological spectrum.
But Bowles did describe their report as “the opposite,” of Schakowsky’s progressive counterproposal.
“I have been called a Republican toady covering Obama’s fanny so he can destroy the Republican party, Erskine’s evil over on his side,” Simpson said. “And it’s a good place to be.”
Conservatives, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, have criticized Simpson and Bowles as well. After criticizing Gingrich’s record as a legislator, Simpson dismissed his attack
“I don’t really have a lot of…appreciation for his comments,” Simpson said.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.