As the Treasury Department announced on Monday that the nation will hit the debt ceiling by mid-October, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) reiterated that Republicans won’t vote to raise America’s borrowing limit “without cuts and reforms.”
“I’ve made it clear that we’re not going to increase the debt limit without cuts and reforms that are greater than the increase in the debt limit,” he said at a fundraiser for Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), insisting that the GOP will now demand cuts on “the mandatory side” of the ledger, impacting programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act. “[W]hat I’m trying to do here is to leverage the political process to produce more change than what it would produce if left to its own devices. We’re going to have a whale of a fight.”
But that battle — which in 2011 led to the first ever downgrade of America’s credit rating and cost the country a million jobs and $19 billion — is one Boehner himself has repeatedly cast as highly irresponsible. In fact, following the 2010 midterm elections, and on at least four other separate occasions, Boehner counseled Republicans that they must deal with the debt-ceiling vote “as adults” and act responsibly in paying for the spending Congress had previously authorized.
Asked directly by Fox News’ Chris Wallace if “defaulting on the full faith and credit is unacceptable to you,” during a January 2011 appearance, Boehner said, “I don’t think — I don’t think it’s a question that is even on the table.” Other examples:
— “I’ve made it pretty clear to them that as we get into next year, it’s pretty clear that Congress is going to have to deal with” the debt limit, Boehner told reporters on Nov. 19. “We’re going to have to deal with it as adults. Whether we like it or not, the federal government has obligations, and we have obligations on our part.” [WSJ, 11/18/2010]
— “[Default] would be a financial disaster, not only for our country but for the worldwide economy. Remember, the American people on election day said, ‘we want to cut spending and we want to create jobs.’ And you can’t create jobs if you default on the federal debt.” [Fox News, 1/30/2011]
— “I think raising the debt limit is the responsible thing to do for our country, the responsible thing for our economy,” Mr. Boehner said. “If we were to fail to increase the debt limit, we would send our economy into a tailspin.” [WSJ, 3/4/2011]
— “We got the debt limit out of the way so that we weren’t jeopardizing the full faith and credit of the United States government.” [PBS Newshour, 2/6/2013]
— “I’m not going to risk the full faith and credit of the federal government.” [MSNBC, 3/22/2013]
During an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew expressed a sentiment that Boehner himself could have agreed with, saying, “Since 1789, every Congress has acted to pay the bills of the United States. This congress needs to do the same.” “The president made clear he is not negotiating over the debt limit,” he added.