Boehner to Double Down on Debt Rule

John Boehner

Speaker John A. Boehner appears to be girding for another fight over raising the nation’s debt ceiling – possibly just before the November elections.

In a speech Tuesday to a fiscal summit meeting in Washington sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Mr. Boehner planned to double down on what has become known as the Boehner Rule: Any increase in the statutory borrowing limit must be accompanied by spending cuts of equal value.

“This is the only avenue I see right now to force the elected leadership of this country to solve our structural fiscal imbalance,” Mr. Boehner will say, according to prepared remarks. “If that means we have to do a series of stop-gap measures, so be it.”

That position led to the country nearly defaulting on its debts last summer for the first time, as Republicans in the House dug in against raising the debt ceiling, which up to then had been considered routine. That fight led to a historic downgrade of United States treasury securities.

But the firm Republican stand also led to legislation in July to cap discretionary spending, as well as across-the-board cuts next year in defense and nondefense spending unless a bipartisan deficit reduction deal was reached.

House Republicans are trying to undo those defense cuts with legislation that would instead cut domestic programs like food stamps, Medicaid and President Obama’s Wall Street regulatory apparatus. But even before those cuts are enacted, Mr. Boehner is looking toward the next fight. Last July’s agreement to increase the debt ceiling was supposed to push the next fight past Election Day, but the Treasury Department has warned that the debt ceiling could be reached in October.

“We shouldn’t dread the debt limit,” Mr. Boehner planned to say Tuesday. “We should welcome it. It’s an action-forcing event in a town that has become infamous for inaction.”

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