“The reality up there is, you’re not going to have the time” to work out a separate debt-ceiling deal next year, said Steve Bell, a longtime Republican staffer on the Hill and an author of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s study.
Because of that, Bell said, the deal should be done in the last weeks of the current Congress. “You cannot separate the question of extending the debt ceiling from what will occur in the lame-duck [session].”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) today said Republicans "took a hike" on budget negotiations last summer, but added they "can hike on back" to pass the president's proposal for averting the so-called "fiscal cliff."
More debt ceiling coverage
Their directives include personnel reductions and a 30 percent cut for Army base operations this year.
Attempts to cut the Columbus Fellowship Foundation illustrate the difficulties of austerity in Washington.
The list of people who want to eliminate the debt ceiling includes Alan Greenspan, three former Treasury Secretaries, most of the nation's prominent economists, and analysts dating as far back as the 1950s.
But if Thursday signaled new willingness in Congress to address the debt ceiling now, it did not reveal any consensus about what to do with it.
The proposal Geithner made Thursday would have the effect of giving the president more power over debt ceiling increases — essentially requiring two-thirds of Congress to disapprove of future increases. The national debt is climbing by more than $1 trillion a year, making increases potentially necessary again.
In a way, Thursday’s news served to put the broader fiscal cliff talks in perspective, like standing a Clydesdale next to an elephant.
The debt ceiling, an issue that dominated Washington for weeks last year, is now just one part of a much broader debate about how to stop tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled for next year.
Among Republicans, some thought it was smart to use this issue in the fiscal cliff negotiations. If Republicans could threaten to block a debt-ceiling increase, that would give them an additional bargaining chip.
“Whatever forces us to cut spending, we ought to do it,” said Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who will be a senator in the next Congress. “If that’s a separate conversation about the debt ceiling, that’s what we ought to do.
But others said they felt the issue should be put off until next year, thinking that they would have more leverage in a fight that’s about the debt ceiling alone.
“They should be separated,” said Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.). “Now’s the time to focus on the issues related to the tax increases and spending cuts.” Huelskamp said he had made that argument in a meeting of the House GOP this week and felt it had strong support.