House GOP: No one's blinking
January 14th, 2013
12:36 PM ET
7 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. John

    If the Republican let the dept ceiling to shut down the Government ,than I see a lot of them losing there seat In 2014. The American people are trier of these last second agreement, If you are so worry about spending than cut everybody pay In the Congress and Senate In half and start paying for your health care. American got to pay It bill on time and the American people does not want to have higher Intensest on anything they want to borrow to buy something. It time that the Republican to wise up and start doing there Job they having been doing for the last few years. Let the Republican see If they can live on only 14,000 a years and let them see how hard It Is.

    January 14, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. steve

    Stand firm Mr President. They want cuts, let them defund the TSA and DHS!!

    January 14, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. The Real Tom Paine


    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.
    In real life , we also look for new revenue, like a second job or a better paying primary job. You can't expect to make a real difference by doing one and not the other. The problem with the GOP is they have never slowed spending when they have been in charge. Not once, not ever.

    January 14, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  4. chilly g

    mr president i support you on the debt celing issue, the republicans are acting this way because you are a black
    president and they just can not in there hart except that.but the majority of the american peoples agree with you.

    January 14, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Pledges? I have a better idea. Open every seesion of Congress with a pledge of allegiance to the United States of America.

    Can someone tell Grover Norquist that he does not represent the majority of the American people? Tell him to stop telling everyone that signing his pledge his what the American people want. It's what the Ayn Randians want.

    January 14, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  6. California Gary

    If the economy crashed and our credit rating got downgraded again.......but nobody "blinked".......did it really happen?

    January 14, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. James Bond

    wwgd? what would grover do?

    January 14, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  8. Rosslaw

    The republicans have moved from being Al-Queda's best hope in terms of their hopelessly incompetent foreign policy to a real national security threat in terms of taking the nation hostage again and again because of their "principles". The republicans have no intention of reducing the deficit, have no plan to do so and never did.

    January 14, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "its "possible that we would shut the government to make sure president Obama understands we're serious.""

    Translation: "I like the taste of the gun metal. Where does my big toe go again?"

    January 14, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. BZ

    The debt ceiling has nothing to do with current spending. The republicans know this but also know that most Americans don't. The debt ceiling simply allows the government to pay the bills it has already incurred. In other words pay for stuff they already approved; If we don't do that than we will tank the economy.

    January 14, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  11. Ed

    GOP = hypocritical + irresponsible

    January 14, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  12. Tony

    No one is blinking on the Democratic side. Wall Street will not let the GOP force a default. When the economy crashes everyone gets hurt, including Wall Street. Gingrich is right. The default is not happening.

    January 14, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  13. Debbie

    The republicans have no intention of reducing the deficit. Their approval rating is probably lower than the Ebola virus.

    January 14, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. rs


    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".

    I prefer calling them the "cut taxes and spend Republicans". "Tax and shirk" is however more efficient!

    January 14, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  15. jsmoulder

    In March 2006, then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., found the notion of raising the debt ceiling quite distasteful.
    “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure,” he said. “It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.” Senator Obama

    January 14, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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