Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
With the government shutdown still unresolved, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., leaves the chamber at the end the day, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, at the Capitol in Washington. There has been no sign of progress toward ending an impasse that has idled 800,000 federal workers and curbed services around the country. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Boehner to Obama: No debt hike without concessions
First Published Oct 06 2013 10:10 am • Last Updated Oct 06 2013 03:05 pm

Washington • The United States moved closer to the possibility of the first-ever default on the government’s debt Sunday as Speaker John Boehner adamantly ruled out a House vote on a straightforward bill to boost the borrowing authority without concessions from President Barack Obama.

With no resolution in sight, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned that Congress is "playing with fire" as he called on lawmakers to quickly pass legislation re-opening the government and a measure increasing the nation’s $16.7 trillion debt limit.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The government shutdown precipitated by the budget brinkmanship entered its sixth day with hundreds of thousands of federal employees furloughed, national parks closed and an array of government services on hold.

Lew said Obama has not changed his opposition to coupling a bill to re-open the government and raise the borrowing authority with Republican demands for changes in the 3-year-old health care law and spending cuts.

Boehner insisted that Obama must negotiate if the president wants to end the shutdown and avert a default that could trigger a financial crisis and recession that would echo the events of 2008 or worse. The 2008 financial crisis pushed the country into the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

"We’re not going to pass a clean debt limit increase," the Ohio Republican said in a television interview. "I told the president, there’s no way we’re going to pass one. The votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit, and the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us."

Boehner also said he lacks the votes "to pass a clean CR," or continuing resolution, a reference to the temporary spending bill without conditions that would keep the government operating. Democrats argue that their 200 members in the House plus close to two dozen pragmatic Republicans would back a so-called clean bill if Boehner just allowed a vote, but he remains hamstrung by his tea party-strong GOP caucus.

"Let me issue him a friendly challenge. Put it on the floor Monday or Tuesday. I would bet there are the votes to pass it," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

In a series of Sunday television appearances, Lew warned that on Oct. 17, when he exhausts the bookkeeping maneuvers he has been using to keep borrowing, the threat of default would be imminent.

"I’m telling you that on the 17th, we run out of the ability to borrow, and Congress is playing with fire," Lew said.


story continues below
story continues below

Lew said that while Treasury expects to have $30 billion of cash on hand on Oct. 17, that money will be quickly exhausted in paying incoming bills given that the government’s payments can run up to $60 billion on a single day.

Treasury issued a report on Thursday detailing in stark terms what could happen if the government actually defaulted on its obligations to service the national debt.

"A default would be unprecedented and has the potential to be catastrophic," the Treasury report said. "Credit markets could freeze, the value of the dollar could plummet, U.S. interest rates could skyrocket, the negative spillovers could reverberate around the world."

Private economists generally agree that a default on the U.S. debt would be extremely harmful, especially if the impasse was not resolved quickly.

"If they don’t pay on the debt, that would cost us for generations to come," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. He said a debt default would be a "cataclysmic" event that would roil financial markets in the United States and around the world.

Zandi said that holders of U.S. Treasury bonds would demand higher interest rates which would cost the country hundreds of billions of dollars in higher interest payments in coming years on the national debt.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a force in pushing Republicans to link changes to the health care law in exchange for keeping the government running, spelled out his conditions for raising the borrowing authority.

"We should look for three things. No. 1, we should look for some significant structural plan to reduce government spending. No. 2, we should avoid new taxes. And No. 3, we should look for ways to mitigate the harms from ‘Obamacare,’" Cruz said, describing the debt ceiling issue as one of the "best leverage the Congress has to rein in the executive."

Some Republicans, such as Rep. Steve King of Iowa, dismiss the warnings about a government default as an exaggeration, suggesting U.S. credit won’t collapse and calling the talk "a lot of false demagoguery."

Asked how the standoff might end, Boehner said Sunday on ABC that he was uncertain: "If I knew, I’d tell you."

The Ohio Republican added that Obama can call him any time to start negotiations to end the shutdown. "He knows what my phone number is," Boehner said.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.