House Speaker John Boehner stands by hard line on debt ceiling, as Democrats call his ultimatum irresponsible

House Speaker John Boehner maintained his hard line on the nation’s debt ceiling in an interview that aired Sunday, saying he is “not going to apologize for leading.’’

Boehner, a Republican, said last week that he will insist that spending cuts exceed any increase to the debt ceiling when the federal government approaches its borrowing limit — likely at the end of this year.

Such an ultimatum could cause a stalemate similar to the one between Republicans and Democrats last year, when the government flirted with default because lawmakers could not agree on the terms of a debt limit increase.


President Obama and party leaders reached a late-night compromise last July 31 to raise the ceiling to $16.4 trillion, a deal Obama said at the time would ensure “that we will not face this same kind of crisis again in six months, or eight months, or 12 months.’’

But the president’s guarantee could be in jeopardy if House Republicans refuse to approve another debt limit increase without the cuts demanded by Boehner.

“My response to what the speaker said is here we go again,’’ said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Both Boehner and Pelosi were interviewed Friday by George Stephanopoulos for segments that aired Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.’’

Pelosi noted that the prospect of default in 2011 was enough for the US government to suffer a credit rating reduction and warned Boehner against a similarly damaging near miss this year.

“This is not a responsible, mature, sensible place for us to go,’’ Pelosi said. “We all know we have to reduce the deficit. We have to do it in a balanced way. The speaker wants to go over the edge. We have cut over a trillion dollars since the Budget Control Act of last year. There has to be more reductions, but we have to have revenue, and we have to have growth.’’


Boehner rejected the notion that the anxiety of another debt battle could harm the nation’s economic recovery.

On the contrary, he said, “dealing with our deficit and our debt would help create more economic growth in the United States, and it would lift this cloud of uncertainty that’s causing employers to wonder, ‘What’s next?’ So dealing with our debt and our deficit are critically important.’’

In an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,’’ Republican Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin backed Boehner and blamed Democrats for what he characterized as their unwillingness to curtail expensive health care entitlements.

“If we fix the programs that are the drivers of our debt, then we reduce a debt crisis likelihood,’’ Ryan said. “Then we actually bring borrowing down, which opens up certainty for investors.’’

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois countered with an argument similar to Pelosi’s, saying he “didn’t think Speaker Boehner wanted to remind the American people what the Republicans in the House did to us last year.’’

“This ought to be a clear indication to the voters of the choice that they’ll have if they continue with the House Republican leadership and their Tea Party dominance,’’ Durbin added. “This is not responsible.’’

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