House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) raised the idea of taking the country into default if Republicans don’t get more spending cuts during a press conference on Friday.
On October 17, the nation hits its credit limit, and must extend the so-called “debt limit” in order to pay outstanding bills that the United States owes. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, it would be calamitous for the nation’s economy.
It’s long been suspected that House Republicans would wrap the debt ceiling into the shutdown fight, but on Friday, Boehner made it official.
“I don’t believe that we should default on our debt,” Boehner said. “It’s not good for our country. But after 55 years of spending more than what you bring in, something ought to be addressed.”
“I think the American people expect if we’re going to raise the amount of money we can borrow,” he went on, “we ought to do something about our spending problem and the lack of economic growth in our country.”
Boehner has previously pledged not to use the debt limit as political leverage. And while he may insist on spending cuts, the funding bill that Republicans are currently blocking actually includes the massive across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration.
On Thursday, the Treasury Department released a report warning that hitting the debt ceiling would create “a recession more severe than any seen since the Great Depression.” Since the nation would default on its debt, it could affect the economic growth and borrowing power of the country for decades to come.
Still House Republicans have written off the effects of surpassing the debt limit, believing — against the advice of experts — that the nation would be able to prioritize payments and avoid pure default.