In other words, don’t talk-- just do it.
House Speaker John A. Boehner, meanwhile, insists Americans won’t tolerate Congress raising the ceiling without also agreeing to changes in entitlement programs that will slow the growth of government.
But he’s promised rank-and-file Republicans he’s done with high-level talks with Obama that his members believe have been fruitless over the last two years.
Instead, the House will pursue “regular order,” with members proposing spending bills that leaders will allow to bubble up through the committee structure and then onto the House floor.
In other words, don’t talk — just legislate.
Both positions run counter to Washington’s last several rounds of fiscal clashes, and they make predictions about the next few weeks--as the nation approaches the $16.4 trillion ceiling in late February--particularly murky.
Past battles have taken on a familiar pattern: There are solemn summits at the White House. The two sides trade offers and phone calls. There are flurries of private activity followed by blow-ups and periods of inactivity.
But always before, there has been some kind of last minute deal, negotiated between two leaders.
There was plenty of communicating the last time Congress agreed to allow the debt ceiling to rise, in the summer of 2011.
First, Vice President Biden led a bipartisan panel of lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Eric Cantor, in months of closed door meetings to discuss ways to raise the debt ceiling and also reduce the deficit.
When they couldn’t agree, President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) engaged in high-stakes one-on-one talks over a “grand bargain” over new tax revenues, spending cuts, entitlement changes and new borrowing authority for the government.
When those talks collapsed, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Biden crafted a last-minute, more modest deal to pair a debt ceiling increase with by $1 trillion in spending cuts over a decade and the establishment of a new bipartisan deficit reduction supercommittee to find yet more cuts.
Then the 12-member supercommittee did plenty of talking, most of it behind closed doors, all throughout the fall of 2011. It, too, failed to agree.
And there were lots of talks in November and December of this year, as Congress and Obama sought to avoid the so-called year end fiscal cliff of scheduled tax increases and automatic spending cuts.
Boehner and Obama again negotiated one-on-one. And when they failed, Congress once again adopted a last minute deal hatched by McConnell and Biden that delayed the spending cuts by two months and allows taxes to rise on those making more than $450,000.