Analysis: Four Theories on John Boehner's Debt Limit Strategy

Flickr user talkradionews

House Speaker John Boehner has tried to convince conservatives to abandon their idea to use the threat of a government shutdown to force President Obama to defund Obamacare, telling them instead to wait and use the debt limit to force Obamacare concessions. Framing the spending negotiations this way pleases no one — conservatives want a shutdown fight, while Obama does not want to negotiate over the debt limit. This has left many people struggling to figure out what Boehner is trying to do.

"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," Boehner promised Republicans at an Idaho fundraiser on Monday night. "We’re going to have a whale of a fight." But on the same day, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced the debt ceiling would have to be raised by mid-October. That means the time between the fight Boehner doesn't want and the one he does is only about 15 days. The timing means "there is no difference between the strategies," The Washington Examiner's Conn Carroll writes. "Everything will be on the table as soon as the House gavels back into session Sept. 9." 

In a conference call with House Republicans last week, Boehner said they would push Obama on the debt limit, but not the continuing resolution to fund the government. Some weren't pleased, The National Review's Jonathan Strong reports, and the call turned "ugly." Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, for example, "told Boehner to 'go back to the drawing board.'" But Boehner showed no sign he'd do that on Monday night, at a fundraiser for Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson, the Idaho Statesman reports. "There is no reason for the government to run out of money," Boehner said. But risking the debt limit is fine. On Tuesday, Boehner's spokesman told Roll Call that the House GOP would demand spending cuts equal to the amount the debt ceiling is raised.

Read the four theories at

(Image via Flickr user talkradionews)

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