House Republicans are apparently starting to get the message that not raising the nation’s debt limit would cause an economic crisis, as they are reportedly considering a plan that would raise the limit. But they would do so, according to a Bloomberg report, only until April 15, meaning the country will face a similar situation in just three months. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) confirmed the report later, saying, “Next week, we will authorize a three month temporary debt limit increase to give the Senate and House time to pass a budget.”
Such a plan runs counter to the claims Republican leaders have made for the last two years. Speaker John Boehner (R) and other Republicans have repeatedly blamed “uncertainty” for crushing job and economic growth. Here are a few examples:
— BOEHNER: “There is no question that the private sector in America right now sees all of this uncertainty coming out of Washington: new rules, new regulations and no idea what the tax rates are going to be at the end of next year,” he says. “I was with a group of employers in my own district yesterday who are very concerned about investing more in their business at a time of great uncertainty and I think government needs to help bring some certainty.”
— REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI): “We should not have a government that stands in the way,” Ryan said during a campaign event in Virginia. “We should have policies that help small businesses grow and create jobs.” […] “What is the President doing?” Ryan poised to his audience. “More regulations, more uncertainty, more borrowing, more spending, more taxing.”
— REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA): “Small businesses in particular, the backbone of our economy, face a cloud of uncertainty. This uncertainty prevents these entrepreneurs from taking a risk, from starting a business, and creating jobs.”
Setting up repeated debt ceiling fights isn’t ideal, given how costly they can be for the fragile economy. Republican intransigence on the debt ceiling in the summer of 2011 cost the nation an estimated $18.9 billion and at least a million jobs. It also created the so-called “fiscal cliff,” which set up another showdown at the end of the year that was ultimately pushed back three months to March.
Republican fears of uncertainty aren’t backed up by their actions. In the two years they have controlled Congress, America has reached the brink of a government shutdown, narrowly avoided default, and nearly gone over the “fiscal cliff,” leading President Obama to exclaim in a press conference last week that “we’ve got to stop lurching from crisis to crisis to crisis.” A three-month debt ceiling fix, though, would only increase the odds of another crisis this spring, when the prospect of a government shutdown and the fiscal cliff’s automatic spending cuts are also back on the table.