House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said flatly Wednesday that President Obama is open to using the debt limit as a vehicle for long-term budget cuts.
At a Capitol press conference with congressional Republican leaders ahead of Obama’s deficit reduction speech, a reporter asked if Obama had signaled that he’d be open to signing something other than clean legislation to raise the debt ceiling.
“Yes,” Boehner said.
I asked Boehner how he’ll be able to extract these concessions if he’s taken his leverage — the risk of defaulting on the national debt — out of the equation. He again implied that Obama’s on his side. “We’ve made it clear to the President, and I think the President is pretty serious about this as well, that we’ve got to take meaningful step toward solving our long-term debt problem if in fact we’re going to find the votes to increase the debt ceiling.”
The question then is, what’s viable. Republicans have taken tax increases off the table. Democrats won’t abide by dramatic entitlement cuts or privatization. That leaves small tweaks to Social Security, cuts to discretionary spending, and perhaps statutory triggers to enforce spending caps in the future.
“In terms of what is significant, in my view the definition of significant is what we do that’s viewed as credible to the market, to the American people, and to foreign countries,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). “A serious and credible path forward, not only short-term, but long-term to reduce spending.”
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 email@example.com.