In a speech to the Economic Club of New York Monday night, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) laid out his party's demands in the battle over raising the federal debt ceiling. Speaking "to a Wall Street crowd clamoring for compromise on the debt limit," Boehner delivered "a sermon on fiscal austerity." He said Republicans would insist on spending cuts greater than the increase to the debt limit, expected to be about $2 trillion. But with the national debt set to reach its legal limit of $14.3 trillion next week, and financial executives worried about markets cratering over the threat of the U.S. defaulting, Boehner's position is drawing "a cool reception" from Wall Street, and major criticism from the White House. Are Boehner's demands reasonable, or is this just reckless "brinkmanship"?
Boehner finally gets it: This "doozy" of a speech "was a monumental game changer for the GOP" and puts Boehner and his party "back on offense," says Erick Erickson at RedState. After disappointing conservatives and Tea Party backers in his budget negotiations with the White House, the speaker sounds like he "has figured out that he is going to have to lead from the Right." Laying out these hard-line budget demands "is a solid and bold move."
"John Boehner's line in the sand"
Once again, Boehner is bowing to the Tea Party: Boehner showed he's "got chutzpah," says J. Jennings Moss at Portfolio. His position "not only puts him at odds with President Barack Obama and most congressional Democrats," but it also places Republicans "in the rare position of opposing the wants of Wall Street." Obviously, Boehner is feeling pressure from Tea Party members who "are mad as hell and have absolutely no desire to compromise." The Tea Party handed Boehner the speaker's gavel in the 2010 midterms, "and he's not about to cast them aside on their No. 1 issue." If Boehner maintains his hard line, expect another "nasty Washington confrontation."
"Boehner stares down Wall Street on debt ceiling"
And his timetable is reckless: Yes, $2 trillion sounds like a lot, but it isn't "an impossible number," says Ezra Klein in The Washington Post. In fact, all of the major budget proposals being debated in D.C. would cut more than that over the next 10 years, "so Boehner's demands, though impressive in the abstract, are actually in the center of deficit-reduction consensus." It's the speaker's timetable that is "more questionable." As things stand, the government won't be able to pay its bills by mid-summer, and that leaves very little time for cementing such a big and contentious deal. If he doesn't back down, Boehner could create "an extremely extended period of uncertainty" for the markets.
"Wonkbook: Beohner's debt-ceiling demands"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- How Israel's hawks intimidated and silenced the last remnants of the anti-war left
- Welcome to the age of ambivalent feminism
- Why China thinks it could defeat the U.S. in battle
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- 10 things you need to know today: August 20, 2014
- What the 'death of the library' means for the future of books
- Why your employer should clean your house and do your laundry
- What you need to know before you support the police in Ferguson
- The real lesson of Rick Perry's mug shot
Subscribe to the Week