It's been a few months since we've had a budget standoff between House Republicans and President Obama, thanks to a deal ironed out during the last epic fight in August, when a last-minute agreement was made to raise the national debt ceiling. That compromise raised the ceiling high enough to get the nation through the 2012 elections, though probably not much further. With last summer's damaging brinkmanship in mind, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Tuesday that he expects Congress to act "without drama, pain, and damage" in December. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) says no, he will insist, like last round, on "cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase," or else. Will the threat of a postelection debt default strengthen Boehner's hand in negotiations, or blow up in his face?
Boehner is playing with fire, and a weak hand: Whether this is "an electoral death wish or a leadership Hail Mary," Boehner apparently has a short memory, says Joan McCarter at Daily Kos. The last time he and his House Republicans held America's creditworthiness hostage over "draconian cuts," it didn't do them "one bit of good outside the extreme, Tea Party base." The fact that Boehner is willing to threaten the U.S. economy again, before the election, suggests he's desperately trying to stave off a coup from the Tea Party faction in his own caucus.
"John Boehner: Bring on the next debt ceiling hostage crisis"
Obama is the one who should be worried: Boehner's election-season hardball over the debt ceiling will just "remind voters how derelict the president has been" on fiscal matters, says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. That's the point, and Boehner's being joined in this "Obama didn't do his job" message by Mitt Romney. The GOP is relishing this fight; Obama isn't.
"Boehner: Watch out for that fiscal cliff"
The real loser here is the economy, and us: We won't know how this lame-duck fight goes down until after the election, says David Dayen at Firedoglake. If Romney wins, expect the GOP to suddenly have no problem raising the debt ceiling, for example. But "leaving politics aside for a moment, this is a looming disaster for the economy." If we have a repeat of last year's near-default and then budget-slashing deal, expect another "downgrade of the United States' credit rating and a significant weakening of economic performance."
"Boehner plans to set economy on fire again..."