Debt limit saves GOP from political showdown

Republicans’ new acquiescence to letting the government pile up more debt with no strings attached spared them another politically debilitating showdown with the president
Associated Press
Feb 13, 2014

Republicans' new acquiescence to letting the government pile up more debt with no strings attached paid double political dividends: It spared the GOP another politically debilitating showdown with President Barack Obama and also forced Democrats to cast votes that rivals immediately used against them in this year's midterm elections.

The GOP's top priority is maintaining its House majority and seizing control of the Senate, and the political strategy is to keep it simple — talk incessantly about Obama's unpopular health care law and avoid cataclysmic fights like the one that led to last fall's 16-day partial government shutdown.

That largely rules out the contentious issue of overhauling the nation's immigration laws.

Both House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., convinced many in their GOP caucus to accept legislation lifting the nation's borrowing authority with no concessions from the Obama administration. Gone were demands for the Keystone XL pipeline, repeal of the health care law and even a popular plan to reverse the pension cut for working-age military retirees.

Republicans wanted to avoid the drama of a possible default and the political fallout from last year's government shutdown. Facing a Feb. 27 deadline from the Treasury, they acted swiftly, realizing that there was no negotiating with the White House or Democrats on the issue. Boehner, who has often struggled with his fractious caucus, including a strong lineup of tea partyers, got grudging respect from conservatives.

"I think it's always better to have something that is straightforward than smoke and mirrors," said Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., who didn't like the idea of attaching the military retiree provision to the debt limit bill. He added that Boehner was better off with his final strategy.

"It's much more honest to have a straightforward vote," Mulvaney said.

The House passed the debt limit bill with 193 Democratic votes and 28 Republican on Tuesday. Boehner and several other members of the leadership along with a handful of retiring congressmen provided the GOP votes.

"I think the speaker did the only thing that he could do," said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. "If you have certain votes that are going to be cast one way, and that's the only way they're going to go and there's no negotiation, then your hands become tied, depending on how many votes that is."

Immigration has no deadline and House Republicans from predominantly white districts see no political imperative to act this year. They fear days of divisive, internal debate over the issue could undercut their standing, especially with core conservative voters. Despite a desire to act, Boehner all but ruled out immigration this year, blaming his Republicans' distrust of Obama to enforce any new laws.

The debt-limit outcome left some outside groups grumbling, with the Tea Party Patriots demanding Boehner's ouster and railing against "go-along-to-get-along capitulation," but no loud voices in the GOP caucus threatened the speaker's standing. At least one Republican had suggested that if Boehner brought up immigration, his speakership was in jeopardy.

Immigration advocates argue that the strategy is shortsighted.

"Why did they go forward on the debt ceiling vote? Because they think their electoral future was at stake," said Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration group America's Voice. "If they don't take the window of opportunity to move forward on immigration this year, their electoral future is in doubt. Not in 2014, but in 2016 and beyond. So it may make it more comfortable for them in the short run, but it could doom them in the long run."

In 2016, Republicans will be defending 24 of 34 Senate seats, with several races in states with fast-growing Hispanic populations such as Florida and Arizona.

In the Senate this week, tea party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz demanded a 60-vote threshold to move ahead on the debt limit bill, forcing Republican leaders such as McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn to reluctantly deliver the votes. The maneuvering opened McConnell to criticism from the tea party and his Republican primary challenger, Matt Bevin.

"Outside of Washington, just about every American understands we can't keep going on the path we're on," said Cruz, who along with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, precipitated last fall's shutdown over demands for Obama to gut his health care law. "We're bankrupting the country. And it's irresponsible to our kids, and it's irresponsible to our grandkids."

Other Senate Republicans saw no positive outcome to Cruz's strategy.

"At the end of the day you still have to deal with the fact that you can't let the country default," said Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb. "What's the other strategy? Default? See how the world reacts to that, see what the stock market does?"

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the choice was clear.

"We can put the country through two weeks of turmoil, or we can get this vote behind us," he said.

By the end of the day on Wednesday, the bill lifting the borrowing authority passed on a party-line Senate vote of 55-43. Republican candidates moved quickly to criticize incumbent Democrats who voted for the legislation.

"With a national debt over $17.3 trillion or $54,000 for every American, we are clearly on an unsustainable fiscal path," said Dan Sullivan, who is looking to oust Alaska Sen. Mark Begich. "Instead of righting that course, Senator Begich voted today to send a blank check to President Obama, allowing the federal government to recklessly spend money we don't have."


The Big Dog's back

What part of Obama is spending less don't you get done again?


Spending less than what? Oh his first 4 years in office. Cutting what you have doubled doesn't matter much on the debt end. Its unpatriotic and irresponsible to use your gods own words. Tell us again why you don't like Bush.


Re: "What part of Obama is spending less don't you get done again?"

Bush increased the national Debt $4.785 Trillion in 8 years.
Obama increased the national debt $6.779 Trillion in 5 years and one month.
Which is larger bush's $4.785 trillion or Obama's $6.779 Trillion?
I will let you search for the gocv't projection for the next few years deficits to get an idea what obama will have after 8 years. (hint National Debt will be higher than today, which means even more increased spending.)

Every year since before 2001 federal spending has gone up. Deficit spending has varied how much it has risen, but every year since before Bush was in office spending has gone up. Even those couple of years Clinton and the repube Congress "balanced" the budget. Spending still went up as did gov't revenues. keeping taxes level and dropping cap gains tax percentage.

Try learning some facts before making even more of a fool of yourself piddle puppy. Look at places other than left wingnut blogs, comedians, and the comedy channel for your facts. You might just find some actual facts.


Oh, the government shutdown. I recall obama picking what he wanted closed down. White House tours to the public, only his invited Hollywood, and millionaires could tour. National parks, including the WWII memorial, which was open air. He shut down the Amber Alert system, but he did keep his wife's site running. Yet his followers see nothing wrong with him? Mind blowing!

Dr. Information

Obama still thinks that people that work hard and earn a good paycheck are holding the poor down. You can lead a horse to water but can't force it to drink.

If our government would make people more responsible for their actions instead of trying to figure out ways to make excuses we would be in much better shape.


The GOP needs to take their party back from the Tea Party. This is a start!


Apparently, avoiding a "politically debilitating showdown" and getting re-elected is more important than avoiding a CERTAINLY debilitating debt. These men and women don't represent anybody but themselves, and that goes for BOTH major parties. I can count on the fingers of one hand those in Washington who are legitimate representatives of their constituents. The rest? Egotistical, power-hungry, greedy, and all too often just plain stupid. In fairness, apparently a lot of voters are even dumber. They keep re-electing the same folks after all!


++++10 Sam.

All you Republican and Democrats bloggers out there please explain how this country can continue to function with this mounting debt? Do we just ignore it? Do we just sacrifice our children's and grandchildren's future so we can live this lifestyle ?

You argue about silly problems while Rome burns. God help us.

Dr. Information

It cannot but who is the party trying to address this issue? It surely isn't the Democrats. They want to keep borrowing and spending our way to the landfill. When the Republicans have tried to cut spending in the past the liberal media cry's foul, along with Obama and all the Democrats that its not fair.


Nope. We still have the same expenses we've always had. What changed is that we've decided to cut our paycheck by lowering taxes, while simultaneously adding 2 wars to our expenses. If you suddenly made $20,000 less per year, and increased spending $20,000, would your debt increase? Let's all thank Mr. Bush for that.

Until Republicans can own up to the massive spending increase under Bush (8% per year compared to a little more than 1% increase per year under Obama), they cannot be part of any sensible discussion on the topic. Sorry, but you have absolutely Zero moral high ground on the issue.

Cutting spending only will put a small dent in the debt - which is why we still HAVE debt after 2 years of non-stop budget cutting.

If you were $100,000 in debt, stopping add'l spending will keep the debt from growing, but won't do diddly to pay off the $100,000 you already owe. What you need is $100,000 to pay off a $100,000 debt, and one way to do that is to bring in more tax revenue.

If conservatives were TRULY interested in paying off the country's debt, they would push for more taxes from EVERYONE. If you say you want to pay off your credit card, but never send payment, you don't get to gripe that you owe more and more money.


Re: "we've decided to cut our paycheck by lowering taxes."

You mean the "Bush tax cuts" of which Pres. Obama locked in 98% of 'em?

Those tax cuts now belong to him.


Re: "paying off the country's debt,"


The govt. would have to raise taxes on EVERYONE by about 70% and cut spending accordingly.

Looking to bankrupt the country eh? lol

Stick to music, economics and finance ain't your forte.


Re: "Nope. We still have the same expenses we've always had. What changed is that we've decided to cut our paycheck by lowering taxes, while simultaneously adding 2 wars to our expenses. If you suddenly made $20,000 less per year, and increased spending $20,000, would your debt increase?"

You can make anything work or not work when you use pretend numbers. Use the actual numbers and you can't stack the deck to make wrong statements work. It is just a function of math., but if you use made up numbers it is meaningless. Thank god you no longer teach.

The Big Dog's back

Your post is meaningless. Contains no facts. Fact free zone.


This from someone who gets his "facts" from comedians, the comedy channel, or left wingnut blogs, at least we have tracked where he quotes from and those are your sources.

You think a point can be made with made up numbers that have no relation to what is happening?

That explains a lot. Almost as much as where you get your "facts".

Darwin's choice

Got worms?

And,your one to talk about meaningless posts....


Re: "Until Republicans can own up to the massive spending increase under Bush"

The raw numbers...

National debt 1-1 2001 $5.628 trillion I know this is 20 days before bush took office but it is close enough to compare.

National debt 1-1 2009. $10.413 trillion again close enough to compare.

Bush added $4.785 trillion in round numbers

Today checking the debt clock it was $17. 292 trillion.
Obama added $6.779 trillion in 5 years and one month.

The NYT reports a projected $759 deficit. making it around a projected $7.538 trillion for 6 years under Obama with 2 years more to go. giving the country a projected National Debt of $18.051 trillion with 2 more years to go.

Total of bush's deficits was $5.628 trillion.
Obamas total deficits to date is $6.779 trillion with just shy of 3 more years to go.
Obama;s projected total after this year is $7.538 trillion.

with these numbers coasterfan thinks we need to focus on bushes $5.6 trillion spent 5+ years ago, and we should ignore the $7.5 trillion obama has spent the last 5 years and not be concerned with the current spending that can be changed. Bush's spending has been done for over 5 years, I would like to know how he proposes to change what has already been spent. We cna change current spending but would REALLY like to know what can be done about spending from 5+ years ago.

If you want to check my numbers you can go to the wiki on "national debt" NYT did an article on the 2014 projected deficit, search it, and if you wish to see the current national debt search "national debt clock" Then do your own math.

I don't expect you to believe what I tell you so I give links to back the facts I use. I don't expect you to believe me if I just say I worked out the numbers and not say where I got the info or where to look to check on my word. I know where I get my info, not that I heard it on TV, radio, or read it somewhere but you can trust me. Check my sourses and numbers. don't believe some person on the internet writing on a newspaper blog.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I agree, we need a FAIR or FLAT tax. Though I must disagree with the presumption that all our expenditures are necessary. I agree that establishment Republicans have no mental purchase on the podium of blaming others but that is why the Tea Party came about at the end of our former President's rule. But I must ask, who is fighting against establishment Democrats from within their own ranks? Or is it enough to have a unified vision that it isn't needed? Lemmings, too, share an agenda at migration.



The Republicans just kicked the can down the road. Don't waste my time with it's someone else's fault. There is no difference between a Republican and Democrat.
Their primary goal is to get re-elected. All spineless cowards.


All professional politicians that we have "kick the can down the road" and worry only about getting re-elected. That is their job. Do you think they really care about the future for your children? Think again. It has nothing to do with what party they are in or what they think. It has everything to do with getting and keeping that cushy little seat they are sitting in.

What is real is that none of these guys stay in Washington really care after they learn the real ropes. They learn to survive by the saged old men that have been there far too long.

Read your history, ladies and gentlmen. This country was founded on debt and has always had it, minus the year Bill Clinton and Al Gore balance the budget with their gang. It wasn't a PARTY that did that, it was the men and women in charge during that administration that did that. It may NEVER happen again. We can only hope.

Perhaps Hillary Clinton knows Bill's secret to it. I sometimes wonder. But this is for sure....that Clinton, Gore combination did it, so why can't others learn it? The minute Bush took over this country went right into debt it is the men who run things not necessarily the party.


Re: "the year Bill Clinton and Al Gore balance the budget,"

The Gingrich Congress and the Repub-held Senate forced it.


Why bother giving them facts Contago? They never give credit where credit is do.


Re: "Why"


Also, the housing boom was starting and the Internet boom was in full swing resulting in record fed tax revenue.

Pres. Clinton lowered the cap gains tax rate to 20% from Pres. Reagan's 25%, causing more money to flow into the stock mkt.

The deficit surplus was a fluke that started to unravel when the Tech Wreck began in March '00.

The Big Dog's back

pooh, you mean when Newt took out the contract on Americans?


Which part of the 8 issues in the contract do you object to, and why did you object to them piddle puppy?

Government and Operational Reforms[edit]
On the first day of their majority in the House, the Republicans promised to bring up for vote, eight major reforms:

1. require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply to Congress;
2. select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
3. cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
4. limit the terms of all committee chairs;
5. ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
6. require committee meetings to be open to the public;
7. require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
8. guarantee an honest accounting of the Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting.


Sheeple much? Gingrich is/was a crook! I give him credit for that!


Re: "Sheeple (snip)"

Where are the facts that Pres. Clinton argued for a balanced budget, poop?


Double post


Re: Read your history, ladies and gentlmen. This country was founded on debt and has always had it, minus the year Bill Clinton and Al Gore balance the budget with their gang."

Read your history... The "gang" that Bill Clinton had that passed the budgets and sent them to be signed by Clinton were Republicans. It was not one party rule back then it took both and they both had to talk and make deals. Not like today.

Here is a site that shows deficits, and who was President, their party, which party held the majority in the Senate, and which had majority in the House. Also shows the top income tax rate, Public debt in their current year dollars, and public debt converted to 1983 dollars, which was the year this chart was first made. Check who had majorities in house and senate the years there were no deficits when Clinton was prez.

The chart is Table #1. If you read the link you will see he converted it to January 1 to December 31 for the year instead of fiscal years, since most people think in calender years instead of fiscal years.

There is much more info and charts to see so scroll through and read more information.

Information you can check on instead of having to believe what someone heard on the radio, read someplace or saw on TV and can't be bothered to back themselves so you can see where the info actually comes from, or if it came from anywhere. You don't know me and I don't expect you to blindly just believe me. There are links to where he came up with his information, feel free to check on them, I did.

Here is a link that shows when even the Notional Debt was also paid off, the country had not just no deficit but no DEBT at all.

The Big Dog's back

So since Repubs now control the purse strings and have since 2011, all this additional debt is their fault? Gotcha! Glad you admitted it.