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Republican Lawmakers Are Divided on US Debt Ceiling Increase

Congress May Resume Debt Squabblingi
February 07, 2014 1:01 AM
Time is running out for Washington lawmakers to reach agreement on dealing with the government's massive debt. The top House Republican says even though there is no deal yet, the nation will not default on its debt. But as VOA’s Jim Randle reports, the two sides seem far apart.
Related video report by Jim Randle:
Michael Bowman
The speaker of the Republican-led House of Representatives said the United States will not default on its $17-trillion national debt, but he is declining comment on legislation needed to raise the U.S. borrowing limit. Uncertainty is mounting weeks before the U.S. Treasury is expected to exhaust its ability to meet federal obligations.

At a news conference, House Speaker John Boehner sought to reassure Americans and global investors that the United States will remain financially solvent. “Listen, we do not want to default on our debt, and we are not going to default on our debt,” he said.

But to avert default, both houses of Congress will have to approve an increase in the federal borrowing limit by the end of the month.

“We have got time to do this. We are going to continue to work at it,” said Boehner.

The speaker is attempting to manage a widely reported rift among Republican legislators as to whether to demand concessions from Democrats on Republican agenda items -- from amending the new health care law, and approving a controversial pipeline for Canadian oil, to federal spending cuts. News reports say Republicans have abandoned most of these ideas, but that some retain a desire to use the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip with Democrats in some still-undefined fashion.

President Barack Obama repeatedly has stated he will not negotiate on the debt ceiling, and that Congress must fulfill its duty to allow the federal government to pay its bills. Democrats in Congress are backing the president, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“This is not a matter of negotiation. This is the full faith and credit of the United States of America,” she said.

Pelosi compared Republicans to diners demanding “a cookie in their lunch. And that is just not right.”

During President Obama’s first term, Republicans succeeded in extracting budgetary concessions from Democrats in return for continued federal spending authority and debt ceiling increases. Last year, however, the president and congressional Democrats announced an end to such negotiations, triggering a partisan stand-off and a 16-day partial government shutdown that ended with Republicans dropping nearly all demands.

Americans mostly blamed Republicans for the shutdown, and Boehner is not eager for another stand-off on the debt ceiling today. At Thursday’s news conference, though, he gave no hints on a path forward.

“No decisions have been made. We are continuing to talk to our [Republican] members,” he said.

One of those members, Congressman Raul Labrador, recently made headlines when he urged fellow Republicans to acknowledge that the debt ceiling would yield no concessions from Democrats.

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Comment Sorting
by: JKF2 from: GREAT NORTH (Canada)
February 09, 2014 11:14 PM
The Speakear, as every other rational person, has it right, the US can't default, if it did it would cause a global financial disaster; already the grandstanding of the "tea party" is causing many economist around the world to start re-evaluating the US dollar as the financial currency base. If the US dollar is shunted aside, a potential for serious currency instability could come about, especially if the currency of a dictatorship becomes the favorite standard. The mere fact that people are considering a change, can cause some instability. There is at least 4 ways to reduce the growing deficit: cut expenditures, which could destroy the barely sustainable recovery; increase the the tax rates on all, which is not very palatable to the many; increase the tax base, which is the a good way ahead, through immigration reform, unfortunately the "tea party" extremists are against it; and lastly rapidly expanding the economy, which is also not that palatable, because it requires huge investments in re-tooling/re-enginering and re-educating the in-efficent portions of the economy. This last choice needs to be undertaken, over time. Essentially increasing the tax base/ number of taxpayers, the 10+ million involved in the underground economy, by legalizing their status, is one easy and fast way to collect more taxes.; but this effort will not fully cover the shortfalls, some tax increases are required, and it is not just in the US, but most of the Western World will need to re-tool, re-engineer and re-educate the workforce segments that have been shut out of good jobs/cereers. Unfortunately, the "tea party" extremists would rather sink the ship and their party, than to move rationally to meet the required challenges; interestingly enough, most Western nations have their own version of the "tea partiers". Immigration reform = dramatic increase in the tax base.

by: Kafantaris from: Warren, Ohio
February 07, 2014 1:18 PM
No guts, no glory, Mr. Boehner. Can't claim credit in 2016 for immigration reform unless the GOP tackles the tough issues now. There is more at stake here than each individual congressman's reelection. Without the Latino vote the math is simply not there for any party to win national elections. The future of the Republican Party is thus at stake. The leadership had better get it together then and marginalize those who still get in the way. There is no more room for this "all for me" politics. The good of the Party now comes first -- as does the good of the country.

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