House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said the nation would default on its debt later this month if President Obama does not agree to GOP’s demands to cut spending and change parts of the Affordable Care Act.
Appearing on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Boehner agreed that the risks of failing to raise the debt ceiling would be “catastrophic,” leading credit markets to freeze, the dollar to lose its value, and interest rates to skyrocket. But, he insisted that “the president is putting the nation at risk by his refusal to have a conversation”:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (HOST): There have been some reports that you have told your own members that you would be willing to put a debt limit on the floor that would pass with Democratic votes, even if it didn’t get a majority of the Republican caucus. Is that no longer true?
BOEHNER: My goal here is not to have the United States default on its debt. My goal is to have a serious conversation about those things that are driving the deficit and the debt up and the president’s refusal to sit down and have a conversation about this is putting our nation.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He continues to refuse to negotiate, the country is going to default?
BOEHNER: That’s the path we’re on. The president canceled his trip to Asia. I assume — he wants to have a conversation. I decided to stay here in washington this weekend. He knows what my phone number is. All he has to do is call.
Since walking away from two so-called grand bargains in 2011 — which would have reduced the deficit by increasing revenue and lowering spending on certain entitlement programs — Boehner and Congressional leaders met with Obama to discuss the current standoff on Wednesday, though no deal was reached.
“We are not going to pass a clean debt limit increase,” Boehner told Stephanopoulos, “I told the president, there’s no way we’re going to pass one… the votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit.” The comment is a reversal for Boehner, who has previously 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.
As Obama continues to insist that he will only negotiate with Republicans after they re-open the federal government by passing a clean continuing resolution and raise the debt ceiling, GOP lawmakers in battleground states are seeing their poll numbers drop and veteran Republican donors are becoming “increasingly alarmed by the defiant stance of hard-line conservatives.”