Politics

GOP aims to gut Christmas, White House alleges

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

House Speaker and national grinch John Boehner is planning to spoil Christmas, White House officials are claiming, as they try to head off passage of Boehner’s two-stage debt ceiling bill.

“Happy Holidays America: Boehner plan would have the debt ceiling all over again during the holiday season, which is critical for the economy,” White House deputy spokesman Dan Pfeiffer declared today at 9.50 a.m. (RELATED: WH official predicts closed-door attempt to merge debt ceiling bill)

White House political adviser David Plouffe made the same claim about Christmas almost one hour earlier when MSNBC’s Chuck Todd quizzed him about the White House’s opposition to Boehner’s two-stage debt ceiling proposal.

The plan’s first stage would provide $900 billion to keep the federal government’s spending steady for the next several months, in exchange for a matching spending cut over the next 10 years. But the federal government is expected to burn through that $900 billion by the end of 2011, setting the stage for a second round of dramatic negotiations over another infusion of cash and more matching cuts.

That second round may crash into Christmas, or the “holiday,” according to the White House. The political controversy would crimp consumer confidence and slow the economy, Plouffe said. It would be “a three-ring circus,” he added.

White House spokesman Jay Carney repeated the same theme at his midday press conference. A two-stage plan that extends the debt ceiling only until “the holiday season,” he said, “would almost certainly require almost all of us to go through this again at the end of the year, the most important economic season of the country.”

UPDATE 1: Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent reports that a variation on Plouffe’s apparently off-the-cuff remark about the Christmas holiday season is now included in talking points that the White House is circulating.

UPDATE 2: New York Times blogger Michael Shear reports that Speaker Boehner’s spokespersons are dismissing the Christmas scare, noting that his legislation would extend debt-ceiling relief past the holiday shopping season and into January.

UPDATE 3: The Drudge Report reminds readers that House Democrats passed the president’s health care reform legislation on Christmas Eve, 2009.

White House spokesman Jay Carney’s Statement: