Most Read: Opinions

Join a Discussion

There are no discussions scheduled today.

Weekly schedule, past shows

ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 12:23 PM ET, 07/12/2011

Boehner’s previous pledge to hike debt ceiling goes straight down the memory hole

As you may have noticed, John Boehner has now taken to claiming that the debt ceiling is Obama’s problem alone. It’s “his problem,” Boehner claimed today. He also suggested that the GOP’s willingness to discuss raising the debt ceiling is in itself a major concession, and that a hike is necessary only because Obama has asked for it.

“Most Americans would say that a balanced approach is a simple one: The administration gets its debt-limit increase, and the American people get their spending cuts and their reforms,” Boehner said (emphasis mine). Mitch McConnell has adopted a similar tack, claiming this weekend that the need to raise the debt ceiling is the result of a “request that the president made of us.”

Yet those with very long memories will recall that less than two months ago, Boehner himself conceded that a raise in the debt ceiling was the “obligation” of both parties, that it was “necessary” for policy reasons, and that failure to do so risked “the end of our economy.”

Boeher made those comments on Face the Nation, way back on May 15th. “I understand what the President was saying about jeopardizing the full faith and credit of the United States,” Boehner said then. “That’s why I’ve said in every public and private utterance that our obligation is to raise the debt ceiling.”

It’s true that Boehner repeatedly stated during that May interview that we must also cut spending as part of any package raising the debt ceiling, and that failure to do that would be “totally irresponsible.” Yet the overall thrust of Boehner’s comments was clear: Republicans were committed to raising the debt ceiling, and they recognized the consequents of failing to do so.

“We have a window of opportunity to act, because if we don’t act, the market’s going to act for us,” Boehner said. “If we don’t act, the market’s going to act for us. Our creditors are going to act for us. We could see the end of our economy if we don’t act.”

Here’s the odd thing about this: These Boehner comments have completely disappeared down the memory hole. Boehner’s claim that the GOP willingness to even discuss raising the debt ceiling is in itself a major concession to the President — and his claim that the debt ceiling is Obama’s problem — have been widely covered by major news orgs. Yet few if any bothered to tell their readers about Boehner’s previous acknowledgement that GOP leaders saw raising it as their “obligation” to prevent the economy from imploding.

Without that crucial context and information, it is simply impossible to evaluate Boehner’s current claims or to evaluate the GOP’s ongoing refusal to compromise on a debt ceiling hike because Dems are insisting on revenue hikes that are a mere fraction of the spending cuts Dems have agreed to accept. Indeed, without that crucial context and information, it’s simply impossible to understand what’s really happening right now. Yet when you read the coverage of the ongoing standoff, it’s as if those Boehner comments simply never happened.

UPDATE: Boehner actually claimed that the debt ceiling is Obama’s problem today. Here’s the full quote:

“When’s he going to lay his cards on the table? This debt-limit increase is his problem, and I think it’s time for him to lead by putting his plan on the table, something that the Congress can pass.”

By  |  12:23 PM ET, 07/12/2011

Read what others are saying

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company