House GOP: No one's blinking
January 14th, 2013
12:36 PM ET
5 years ago

House GOP: No one's blinking

Washington (CNN) - In a high-stakes game of chicken, House Republican leaders appear more willing than before to allow the country to default on its loans and shut the government down, in order to force the president and Democrats to agree to spending cuts.

In conversations with House GOP leadership aides, it was clear they want to try to reclaim the upper hand in this debate over slashing government spending.

"If the White House continues to pretend that hoping is a strategy then I don't see how we make progress," said one House GOP leadership aide.

One member of the leadership, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington, told Politico that its "possible that we would shut the government to make sure president Obama understands we're serious."

That quote – and the story it was in – appears to be a deliberate attempt to raise the stakes and send the president a message.

"If that story sparks the White House to abandon their strategy of sticking their fingers in their ears and hoping real hard we pass a debt limit increase without real spending cuts –that's a good thing. That's not a realistic strategy," said the House Republican leadership aide.

House GOP leaders argue their position hasn't changed from the last time the country hit the debt ceiling in 2011 – they want a dollar of spending cuts for every dollar the debt limit is increased.

The same senior Republican aide says that with the White House ruling out other options – minting a trillion coin or using the authority under 14th Amendment – the only option is for Congress to pass legislation and it is possible that unless the President changes his position, Congress won't agree to raise the debt limit.

One option, if they cannot agree to a bigger package, is that Congress could just raise the debt limit for short period of time instead of a full year.

"The White House knows our position - we need spending cuts or reforms equal to the debt limit increase – if they can only find a month or two, then that's what they get."

Despite this bravado, other House GOP leadership aides tell CNN they do not think the Speaker is willing make good on these threats – and put the credit of the United States on the line with the debt ceiling. Shutting down the government may have fewer long term consequences with regard to the health of the economy, but some House Republican leadership aides say even that is too politically risky.

The issue, however, is that there are a number of rank and file House Republicans who bit their tongues in and around the fiscal cliff debate, believing the debt ceiling and potential government shut down is where their leverage is.

How far House Republicans are willing to go will no doubt be a big topic at this week's House GOP retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia.

READ MORE: President Obama's news conference

Filed under: Debt • House Republicans
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. ghostriter

    Conservatives, I have a novel idea.....why not put out the cuts you think are necessary on the table?

    January 14, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    from the article:

    "In a high-stakes game of chicken, House Republican leaders appear more willing than before to allow the country to default on its loans and shut the government down, in order to force the president and Democrats to agree to spending cuts. "
    Barack Obama has already agreed to spending cuts. Remember that grand bargain the President had worked out with John Boehner, but was later rejected by the Tea Pary House because it contained revenue? The President signed into law last year in the spring one trillion in spending cuts, which did not contain any new revenue.

    The president has asked for more spending cuts but stipulates that they be made across the board, including defense. This last seems to be completely unacceptable to Republicans.

    January 14, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. rs

    The GOP really has no strength here. Either the up the spending cap (as they already approved the spending), or we default (with all of those awful consequences), and violate the 14th Amendment (and we know how much the GOP reveres the Constitution). After all, they allowed every other ceiling hike until last year (including 8 for Reagan and 7 for Bush).

    I realize a common sense argument like that rarely applies to the GOP these days- what with them acting more and more like 1950s "dead-end" teenagers... but one can hope they don't want to kill their party quite that fast.

    January 14, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  4. freedom

    Can't pay the bills – shut it down. What do we do in "real life" when we can't pay our bills? Cut back on spending. Re-assess, re-evaluate, change spending habits. We DON'T keep spending.

    January 14, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  5. rs

    Meanwhile the GOP perpetuates the myth that somehow the Debt limit must trigger a spending cut. Again if that were so why did they not demand it the 15 times they raised it under Reagan and Bush? Besides, the bills are due for things they already agreed to spend on- not new or old spending.

    Finally, the GOP needs to get over this twisted notion that this Debt, and Deficit problem they created with tax cuts and war spending logically means we rend the social safety net. They need to realize America will never do away with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment Compensation, or even the ACA just because they don't like it (and prefer subsidies to big oil, tax cuts for the rich, or war profiteering). We are a civilized nation- not some third-world theocracy- even though that seems to be where they want to take us.

    January 14, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  6. Tom

    Circumventing Congress to address the debt ceiling would only work for Obama if it were clear that no other option exists. Using it as a threat would only further poison the environment. It almost feels like Obama is daring the Republicans to shut down the government and force a credit default. I suspect that move is, in part, intended to drive the wedge even deeper within the already divided Republican party. I wouldn't rule out some Presidential action (either invoking the 14th amendment or the 1T coin thing) but only if Obama can position it as a move he strongly dislikes but, as chief executive, feels he must do to save the country. With the right timing, Obama could win big on this issue. Obama needs to take action to settle this debate. This pattern of impasse, short-term fix, next impasse is killing what little progress is happening with the economy.

    January 14, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  7. California Gary

    If the GOP causes another downgrading of our credit and the stock market tanks as a result of their game of "political chicken", they are mistaken if they think the American people will give them another pass on this. The raising of the debt ceiling was never an issue until this president took office. It was always a given by both parties that the ceiling would need to be raised and it wasn't an excuse for political grandstanding. Why now? That's a rhetorical question......we all know why.

    January 14, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. Larry L

    Republicans are big "pledge takers" and we can learn from that practice. "I hereby pledge to do everything within my power to prevent the re-election of any politician who attempts to hold the well-being of the American people hostage so they can make political gains for themselves or their political party." We all need to take this pledge.

    January 14, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  9. James Bond

    If they thik the dems will take the blame, they will do anything, anything, to get the pres to look bad, you voted on the spending package less than a month ago, now you dont want to pay for it, they wanted their military spending, then try to get all other spending cut. the republicans want this country to fail, whyis this an issue now, never before have the republicans worried about debt limits, sad bunch, hate to see them go

    January 14, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  10. James Bond

    Simply cannot wait to vote these fools out! and best of all, the koch bros. and alden, and grover will be spending big dollars putting up their puppets for a vote, too bad the republican party let them take over, because its going to be ugly for them come election time, not nearly soon enough

    January 14, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  11. ST

    "We would shut the government to make sure President Obama understands we're serious".
    Unbelievable. Who elected these kind of people? Are they ready to dismantle the economy because the other side don't agree to their demands? Are they aware who will suffer? And what will be their next step afterwards? This way of thinking is NOT productive at all.

    January 14, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  12. John

    The House writes all legislation involving spending, and or cuts in prior spending, not the president...Ultimately the debt is the House's responsibility......the president only signs legislation presented to him, and he has not so far, vetoed any of the legislation presented........If there is a default it is 100% the responsibility of the House for refusing to allow payment for debts that THEY have created through THEIR legislation.....actually pretty simple. Cutting the deficit is a separate issue from agreeing to pay for debts that you have already accrued.....

    January 14, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  13. Ferret out the BS

    If the president has the authority to raise the debt ceiling by executive order and by-pass congress then just do it. Congress is not being too smart in picking its battles. The House should start now putting together a budget for next year and the next 5 outlying years with their plan for debt reduction. It can be negotiated if it is completed far enough in advance and presented the way it is supposed to be presented. We need to get away from these crisis moments the congress has created by not doing their job. The U.S. economy and business needs stability and a long term budget with a path forward would offer that and lead to long term stable growth.

    January 14, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  14. James Bond

    Pledge taken

    January 14, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  15. rs

    The last time the GOP in Congress "played Chicken" with the debt limit their poplarity sunk below that of the American Communist Party. As it stands now more Americans would rather have a colonoscopy than associate with them. They need to realize just how poisonous their brand is- 2014 isn't that far off.

    January 14, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  16. rs

    Larry L
    Where do I sign?!

    January 14, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  17. Woman In California

    @ rs
    I love reading your posts. Please continue writing them.

    @ California Gary
    Thank you pointing out the obvious.

    January 14, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  18. v_mag

    Remember the "tax-and-spend-liberal" label the Goppers always try to layoff on Democrats? And here they are, after years of spending for wars and welfare for the 1%, refusing to pay for what they bought. The GOP is the party of "tax-and-shirk".

    January 14, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  19. Gurgyl

    It is not the time for spending cuts. In a parallel economy, nation needs to spend to move on. Economy is improving for sure. We need MANUFACTURE, ENERGY EFFICIENCY. Gas is going ou–bad sign.

    January 14, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  20. USwatcher

    No Mr.Boehner...Americans want debt ceiling issue resolved QUICKLY...with no more DRAMA...and with NO STRINGS attached...AND WITH NO THREATS FROM GOP ON SHUTTING DOWN OUR GOVERNMENT.

    January 14, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  21. daniel

    hooray for the government!

    January 14, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  22. Malloy

    Here we go again. The Teapublicans voted for the spending when Bush was president. They also voted for tax cuts. Now it's time to pay the bills they ran up and they say no way. I say, fine don't raise the debt limit. Shut the government down. When the credit rating is lowered and the stock market tanks, the big money players will lose millions. Who will back the Teapublicans then?

    "If you don't do as I say, I'll shoot myself in the other foot!" Lead them to their own demise Mr. Speaker. The Greedy Old Party owns this mess no matter what they say. What a bunch of clowns.

    January 14, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  23. Alexis S. J.

    Tea-Republicans: America's political terrorists.

    January 14, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  24. Woman In California


    Larry L
    Where do I sign?!

    Great point. Count me in as well.

    January 14, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  25. Gregory M. Newbold

    The Tea Party Republicans are going to force the GOP`ers from "non-gerrymandered" districts to be tossed out in the next election. They are going to give the HOUSE OF representatives back to the Democrats and Mr. Obama seems willing to wait obstructionists out.

    January 14, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
1 2