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February 14, 2016

Republicans Say Obama Underestimates Their Resolve as Debt Default Nears

If you thought Republicans weren’t serious about a debt default, think again.

While Democrats refuse to negotiate on the continuing resolution and the debt limit, apparently assuming the GOP will eventually cave, House Republicans insist they are prepared to bring borrowing authority to a screeching halt.

“I can assure you it’s not posturing. It’s not a political play or anything like that,” Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., told CQ Roll Call on Tuesday.

Gingrey said Republicans were “absolutely” prepared to lose the House to extract concessions on the CR and the debt limit, and he said the White House is “missing the determination of the Republican Party.”

“I mean, they seem to think that we will miss this opportunity for a ‘Braveheart’ moment to do the right thing for the American people and that we’ll back down for fear of losing the House and not gaining control of the Senate,” Gingrey said.

President Barack Obama held a news conference Tuesday during which he reiterated his position that Democrats would not negotiate with Republicans “for the mere act of reopening the government or paying our bills.”

But Republicans insist Obama will have to negotiate if he wants the debt ceiling raised, and it is that impasse that makes a debt default far more likely than many anticipate.

“I don’t think he’s going to win a game of chicken,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., about Obama’s “no negotiations” position.

House Republicans were expected to pass a bill Tuesday evening that would create a bipartisan, bicameral working group to address the current fiscal impasse.

The don’t-call-it-a-supercommittee Bicameral Working Group on Deficit Reduction and Economic Growth is supposed to force Democrats to the negotiating table — or at least provide more political cover for Republicans.

Democrats are skeptical, and the White House has issued a veto threat. Obama said he’d be willing to consider adding a process for negotiations to a short-term debt limit increase — provided that it’s not a “concession” to the GOP.

“I know that Speaker [John A.] Boehner has talked about setting up some new process or some new supercommittee or what have you,” Obama said. “You know, the leaders up in Congress, they can work through whatever processes they want, but the bottom line is, either you’re having good-faith negotiations in which there’s give-and-take, or you’re not.”

Good-faith negotiations, for Obama, means the GOP has to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling for at least a short-term basis.

That seems to be a nonstarter for Republicans.

“There can be no movement until they come to the table,” said Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky.

Massie seemed to believe, like many in the GOP, that Republicans hold the better public relations position on the shutdown and the debt limit, and that Democrats have blundered.

“I think they miscalculated their message,” Massie said. “They have the wrong message. [The] American public is not going to respond well to a president or a Senate that is not going to negotiate. That’s a horrible message for them.”

But Democrats feel they have a winning argument.

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., indicated Tuesday that he thought Americans were sick of the posturing and mini-CRs the House has passed.

“It is a game. It is a pretense without substance and without principle. It’s all politics,” Hoyer said.

While Republicans and Democrats are at a negotiating impasse, it is the communications impasse that is perhaps more alarming.

Asked whether the White House had miscalculated the determination of House Republicans to extract concessions on the debt limit even with the threat of default looming, Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, said, “You hit the nail on the head there — that’s exactly the problem.”

While Farenthold cautioned that he can’t read the president’s or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s minds — “I’m not sure I’d want to if I could” — he said both had misjudged the GOP’s stance on raising the debt ceiling.

“It’s about what’s good for America; it’s not about politics,” Farenthold said.

Indeed, Republicans seem to believe they’d do more harm by passing a no-strings-attached debt ceiling hike than by defaulting.

“The only thing more irresponsible or insane than the president letting us default on our debt would be the president’s demand that we increase the federal debt ceiling without addressing our nation’s spending problem,” said Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., at a GOP leadership press conference Tuesday.

For many Republicans, the shutdown and the debt limit have nothing to do with politics. And according to one senior GOP lawmaker, that’s precisely the miscalculation from the White House and the Senate that could lead to a debt default.

“The White House and the Senate need to figure they’re playing with fire,” the lawmaker said.

The lawmaker told CQ Roll Call that the White House is “still sort of locked in the old school that, ‘We won’t shut down the government, we won’t default.’

“And here we are in a shutdown, and they think they’re just going to play politics,” the lawmaker said. “And they got to understand that there are people that are real committed to doing something big and doing something effective. That’s why they came here.”

The lawmaker added that the White House never established relationships with members, that the White House doesn’t understand “especially the sophomore class, and they underestimate their willpower.”

The senior GOP lawmaker said it was never the speaker’s plan to shut down the government or default. And yet the government is closed, and default, a once unthinkable proposition, is a real possibility.

“That’s what I’m saying,” the lawmaker said.

“They think it’s all just politics. It’s not. These guys, a lot of our conference, a majority, are committed to doing something big. It’s why they ran, it’s why they came here,” the lawmaker said. “And they keep thinking it’s politics.”

  • DrSquishy

    Republicans have only themselves to blame in shutting down the government.

  • DrSquishy

    There will be NO concessions. Americans should NOT have to do concessions for Republicans to DO THEIR JOBS.

    • Bill

      This is their job. The House spends the money, the Senate approves it, and the president signs it. 0bama and Reid are trying to hijack the process, hold the House hostage, and force the House to surrender their Constitutional role in the budget process.

      The House passed a budget, it is now the responsibility of the Senate to approve it, and the president to sign it.

      • Jim Berry

        What full fiscal year budget did the House pass prior to October 1? The last I saw, they refused to bring any appropriations bills up for a vote during the last 8 months?

      • Jazzboy1

        Bill, there is more than a screw loose here. You think the Democrats must approve whatever the House GOP wants. Wrong.

        You lost the election. Get over it and start compromising in GOOD faith.

      • ExRepug

        Actually, the Constitution states that “the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments” to the House’s budget bills. There is no requirement that the Senate approve whatever the House proposes.

        The Senate passed its budget proposal in April and has waited six months for Boehner to appoint House conferees to the reconcilation conference. Why has he not done that? When does he plan to carry out HIS constitutional duty?

        • texasaggie

          And as of yesterday, the House has refused 21 requests to go to conference to reconcile the two bills.

          • ExRepug

            Yes, and I’m afraid the two chambers are about to kick the can down the road yet again.

  • DrSquishy

    It isn’t the president letting them default if it is ONLY the Congress that can raise the debt ceiling.

  • Samsara

    Lets get one thing clear. There is only one person who allow the vote that will prevent a debt limit default. His name is John Boehner. Obama can’t do it, Reid cant do it, only Boehner. So if John Boehner allows the tea party to cause an economic meltdown it will be the responsibility on John Boehner.

    All the spinning in the world wont change that fact.

  • Samsara

    By the way, would you GOP House members at least have the courtesy of telling the American People what your demands are before you blow up the country.

  • DrSquishy

    What are the demands that you have?

  • Samsara

    I have every confidence that Rep.Gingrey is willing forother Republicans to pay the price for his swaggering ignorance.

    • Jazzboy1

      Gingrey is running for Governor of Georgia in a crowded primary so he needs to look the toughest for his PR.

  • conservativechick

    The Democrats have left us with no good options, and default just may be the least bad among them. Defaulting now might be more manageable than defaulting in the future when we are even deeper in debt, and our economy is in even worse shape than it is now. The leftists are crazy – 50 more years of Democrat policies will have the entire nation looking like Detroit. Better to stop the insanity now and force the government to rein in spending while we can still recover.

    • Lars_the_pianist

      I don’t see the what you are complaining about. The Federal Debt is not crowding out corporations looking for capital – if anything interest for corporate paper is about as low as it’s ever been corporations are sitting on mountains of cash.

      Regarding interest payments on the Fed Debt — it’s much lower than what we were paying in 2007 (last year before meltdown)

      2007 Interest payments were $307B (2.1% OF GDP)

      2013 Interest payments projected to be $248B (1.6% of GDP)

      For me the long pole in the budget tent is actually Defense spending which has risen 30% (as a percentage of GDP) since 2007.

      2007 Defense spend $624B (4.3% of GDP)

      2013 projected Defense spending $901B (5.6% of GDP)

      Obama is actually spending almost the same amount of GDP on Defense as Reagan — (1988 we were at 5.9% of GDP).

      You have to look at these things as % of GDP – not absolute numbers.

      • kernals

        be careful, conservatives are allergic to facts

        • Lars_the_pianist

          Thanks – I’ll try to be gentle.

          I actually am very sensitive to health care costs – but that’s a totally different vector.

      • Tom B

        What a joke!I just went to see the president of the federal reserve in Dallas in a speech at SMU and he said Obama is not living in reality and America has very low income with very high government spending which is a disaster for the US economy.Also he said QE 1,2,3,etc were a waste of time and money.At least people in Texas have common sense and don’t rely on the cowplop the government number crunchers put out.

        • hippie1367

          You can thank the GOP policies of 30 years for the low income and high costs-the wars they start don’t come cheap.

          • Lars_the_pianist

            You might want to read my comments above to Tom B regarding revenue collection vs. defense costs.

            For you comments (and I used to play in a Grateful Deadish band an had **much** longer hair than I do now – sigh) — I’d also add Clinton/Rubin’s rollback of financial regulation to that list of policies that created the mess.

          • hippie1367

            Clinton was a shill for wall street just like barack

          • Lars_the_pianist

            I think the “shill” characterization oversimplifies matters.

            While I think overturning Glass-Steagall was a big mistake – there was a whole political debate going on between Clinton’s staff at the time – Stiglitz against – Summers/Rubin for overturn. In the end – I think it was politically driven more than “Wall St.” driven. Clinton wanted to appear to be doing something – in the face of GOP intransigence in Congress. In the end – he did the wrong thing. (Listen to Stiglitz on Fresh Air.)


            I also think Geithner gets a short shrift from my friends on the left who don’t seem to understand how much he did to enforce the Dodd-Frank requirements that the “too big to fail banks” – have much more capitalization than before the crash – and also have documented “unwinding” procedures.


            In lieu of Glass-Stegall being re-enacted – this is pretty major stuff. (I read Matt Taibbi and Greg Palast – but find them pretty hyperbolic and lacking overall understanding sometimes.)

            Finally, I’m encouraged to hear Hank Paulson out talking about existential threat from income inequality. I can’t go into details – but I know that’s not the Hank Paulson that was appointed to Treasury in 2006. The crash has him sounding more like Joseph Stiglitz (my favorite econ guy currently.)

            After listening to many Wall St. “analysts” – and watching how they drove a company I worked at to make idiotic business decisions — the last people in the world I would trust to run a business would be Wall St. analysts. They have way too much power in this world – an way too little accountability.

            It’s complicated — but to quote Napoleon “never ascribe to malice than which is adequately explained by incompetence.” (And I believe Obama was making a mistake “trusting” Larry Summers who didn’t have the personality to be Fed chairman.)


          • banger377

            Conservatives end wars. It’s the Loony Left that starts them.

          • hippie1367

            Thanks for once again proving the GOPer inability to operate a CALENDER – we all know that anything with numbers is rendered into Greek for you clowns.

          • banger377

            Give us a list genius.

          • hippie1367

            Since you are too dumb to read a calender and associate a particular president with IRAQ a list would leave you puzzled.

          • banger377

            The list, idiot. Put up or shut up.

          • Lars_the_pianist

            That’s a gross oversimplification — unless you think that Dubya was part of the “Loony Left”.

          • banger377

            What about all the other wars. Forget Bush for a second. Korea, viet nam, Oops, those were a couple that the loony left ended, sort of, in defeat.

          • Lars_the_pianist

            You have a pretty “liberal” definition of Loony Left.

            Korea — hmmm — I don’t think you can call Chinese troops streaming in over the border Loony Left. (Or Truman for that matter.)

            Vietnam – I never thought of LBJ as part of the Loony Left (Texas Senator pretty flipping conservative as I recall – maybe not compared to Goldwater – but not really like McGovern or McCarthy.) I’m assuming you give LBJ Vietnam – and not Eisenhower who was helping the French their colonial affairs in the 50s.

            Reagan in Grenada — or even the Contras — now that was Loony Left. —

            G.W. Bush — Iraq Gulf War — now that’s gotta be the Loony Left — nah – don’t think so.

            Frankly — I don’t know what you’re talking about. But I’ll leave you with a riddle “what was the first political campaign I worked on.” Hint: motto was “in your heart you know I’m right.”

            Cheers —

          • banger377

            Korea should never have happened. We spent WW2 fighting tyrants, and didn’t finish the job when we could have. We should have defeated Mao when he was weak, and saved 70 million innocent Chinese from being murdered. Korea and all the associated murder, and slavery of the lat 63 years could have been avoided with the defeat of Mao. Same goes for Stalin, but I think the Progressives needed him, so it didn’t happen.

            Nope. Libs start wars because of their covetous desires. Conservatives end them by shooting libs as they are in the midst of B and E’ing.

            ALL war is caused by wanting to take someone else’s stuff. JUST war is stopping someone from doing that.

            It all boils down to that.

        • Lars_the_pianist

          Would you point me to a link for that speech? Sounds like something up my alley so to speak.

          Yep – there are a lot of jokes in those budgets — so we spend 1.3% of GDP more on Defense now than when Bush had a “good economy” — and tax revenues collected are 1.9% of GDP lower now than in 2007. (Tax revenue collected in 2007 was 19.8% of GDP — $2.88T — 2013 projected collection is 18.1% of GDP — $2.91T)

          So just those two numbers alone say the deficit in 2013 will be (all things being equal) 3.2% of GDP higher than in 2007. (Not quite – projected deficit is about 4% of GDP higher). So roughly 80% of the difference between the 2007 and 2013 deficit is due to high Defense spend and lowered tax revenues.

          I don’t think it’s just the administration that’s in a sense of “unreality” — I’d say it’s the majority of the American population that doesn’t want to make these judgements based on “numbers” — but instead on “feelings” – who’s tribe do they identify with.

          Myself – I try not to be ideological and have never registered in a political party.


    • Jim Berry

      The Republican House members that have blocked appropriation bills are the ones that have left no good options. It is GOP leadership that has left no good options….but , this appears to be what the few members that have ‘bought’ into the hijacked tea party game plan want. Block Obama at all costs, whether it is good or bad for the country, a little chaos will open the door wider for the power behind the hijacked tea party movement to gain more control through their ‘mini me’s’ in congress. With no regard as to whether it is good or bad for the Country, only what may be best for the ‘power behind the curtain’ pulling the strings on these so called Tea Party legislators.

      • conservativechick

        You’re insane.

    • hippie1367

      The motto of Detroit is: At least we ain’t in Mississippi or any other klan led GOPer state.

  • Andrew

    The GOP isn’t getting it, then. If there’s one thing that’s more important than the full faith and credit of the United States, it’s the legitimacy of elections. Government by extortion and hostage taking is no government at all.

  • Areader

    The Republicans Resolve?…Stupidity is more like it!

  • Ge0ffrey

    Americans legitimately elected a Republican House directly in response to the passing of ObamaCare. The Supreme Court ruled ObamaCare legal but only as a tax. The Congress has legitimate authority to defund the ObamaCare tax, which was a totally PARTISAN bill, written without Republicans. Obama has NO legitimate authority to re-write ObamaCare to give his big business buddies a 1-year delay. Why shouldn’t the people get the same 1-year delay?

    • apostasyusa

      you need a majority in Congress to write laws. Something Republicans do not have.

  • andrewp111

    Obama wants a hard default. He wants it bad. He is almost giddy with joy. Obama wants a crash that wipes out the TBTF banks, and allows him to destroy the Republican Party forever.

    • Jazzboy1

      I think we only want to destroy the right wing TEA kooks of the GOP. Why do you exaggerate? LOL

  • hippie1367

    GOPer filth will put thru what bills their donors approve of and nothing more.

  • vetvoter

    Due to Gerrymandering most of the TeaParty Representatives are in safe districts so it’s easy for them so say, we won’t back down. Those GOP reps from the mid-west, north-east and north-west might want to think twice before following idiots like Gingrey over that cliff.

  • Anton Chigurh

    Wrong representative Gingrey. No one underestimates your stupidity.

  • apostasyusa

    Who is refusing to negotiate? What are Republicans going to give Democrats in negotiations?? No one can answer this question.

    Congress needs to get their act together and stop acting like children. The debt ceiling is not something you want to hold as a card against winning concessions out of the other Party.

    Negotiations require compromise, which is not something the Republicans are considering. Republicans want to get what they want and that be the end of it. So they are not really negotiating they are dictating using the debt ceiling and our economy as the bargaining chip.

    • godblessusa

      “Who is refusing to negotiate? What are Republicans going to give Democrats in negotiations?? No one can answer this question.”

      The answer is easy.

      The president gives Republicans whatever they want.

      Republicans promise the president to not tank the economy.

      Extortion, pure and simple, and the American people know it.

  • Jazzboy1

    Republicans are furious that they can’t get the President to capitulate to their hostage-taking tactics like he did before. The President is right. That’s why he was elected by a 5 million vote margin and the GOP lost seats in both the Senate and the House. The GOP understands what it is doing — and they don’t give a flying duck.

    They are now set to be swept out of office in Virginia, a harbinger of things to come in 2014. Imagine — a former Southern Dixiecrat state electing a former liberal Democratic National Chairman as its governor. It almost boggles the mind.

  • artisanr

    No negotiations with GOP financial terrorists!

  • OhWelll

    WTF:“I mean, they seem to think that we will miss this opportunity for a ‘Braveheart’ moment to do the right thing for the American people and that we’ll back down for fear of losing the House and not gaining control of the Senate,” Gingrey said.

  • Paul Dirks

    Oddly, Eric Erickson and Heritage Action have both come out in favor of raising the debt ceiling but continuing the ‘defund Obamacare’ shutdown. Meanwhile the Koch brothers have publicly denied favoring the Obamacare shutdown but still want to push on spending.

    At least they’re consistent.

  • pbj diddy

    the question is NOT are they willing to lose the house, the question is are they willing to lose MY house and your house and our 401(k)s and a big chunk of the economic output of this country…they appear to be willing right now, but I suspect most of them are no smarter with their personal finances than they are with the public’s, and will be vulnerable to their own actions.

  • Skinz83

    It’s really annoying that most of the media keeps acting like both sides are somehow equally to blame here. I understand that journalists need to be objective, but it is also their job to report the truth, and the truth does not always lie neatly in the middle of every story. All of the “he said, she said” reporting that I keep seeing obscures the reality of what’s actually going on here: Republicans do not want to “negotiate” anything. I’ve been asking this for days and haven’t received a straight answer: What would Republicans be giving up in any negotiation? Aren’t both sides supposed to give something up? When the only thing they are offering is not to destroy the economy through default, that’s not a negotiation. That is simply extortion. Why hasn’t the media called this what it is?

  • tpartynitwit

    I commend the Teatards for threatening to cut off their balls and swallow them, and I encourage them to do so.

    • Ge0ffrey

      You must be a teabagger..

  • coneyislandbaby11224

    If these Republican Congressmen deliberately wreck our economy by causing our nation to default on our debt then they should be arrested for Treason. How dare these Traitors attack their own country.

  • Kirby

    Get rid of Boehner. Pass the budget, deal with Obamacare later if you must. They should be SEPARATE issues.

  • Jason Rowe

    Yep, the GOP are legends in their own minds.

  • swerver

    here it is. Republican congressmen fully admitting to blowing up the country on purpose.

  • GraceD

    “I can assure you it’s not posturing. It’s not a political play or
    anything like that,” Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., told CQ Roll Call on
    How does Ga. grow such clowns? They actually believe they speak for the people! I think they live in a bubble, occupied by nuts, just like themselves & have no idea what the rest of us think.
    I hope people will go to the polls & vote out jokers like this, that do not know how to perform their constitutional duties.

  • texasaggie

    “There can be no movement until they come to the table,” said Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky.

    They’ve been there, Bud. Don’t you remember? It’s why the budget that the Democrats have proposed is what the repubs demanded a few months ago. Now these teahadists have decided that they can get more out of a hostage situation.

    When the repubs are willing to give up something in order to get something else, then they can start talking. In the meantime, saying that they won’t kill the US is not a concession.

  • EdWalton

    The Republicans know this ruse, talk big, then at the end they cower & capitulate with no results, for the one hundred thirtieth consecutive time.

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