Boehner Goes for Clean Debt Limit
10:01 AM, Feb 11, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
I understand House Speaker John Boehner has just announced to his conference that he intends to bring the floor of the House a clean debt limit increase. Conservative members of the conference had argued for this course. Conservatives will vote against "Obama's debt increase," but expect it to pass with mostly Democratic votes, and some Republicans. This should take the prospect of government default or shutdown off the table, and with it one of the few Democratic talking points that might help save them this year.
Conservative members are pleased that the speaker isn't creating mixed messages by adding to the hated debt limit increase popular conservative priorities like restoring the COLA for vets or the repeal of parts of Obamacare. There's always been a temptation to do this, because Republicans allegedly have "leverage" on the debt limit—but it turns out they don't, or can't use it effectively. This course will allow conservatives to vote against the debt ceiling increase, and then vote for vets' COLA, Obamacare mandate repeals, and the like as free-standing legislation. The key is to advance such legislation soon and vigorously.
The speaker has followed a long and winding (and at times confusing!) path to a reasonable outcome, one that lets Democrats own the debt increase, and lets conservatives have a clean shot at advancing key parts of their legislative agenda.
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