White House, Republicans spar over length of debt limit increase

Amanda Carey Contributor
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Speaker of the House John Boehner and the Obama administration sparred Monday morning over the length of the debt limit increase, trading barbs through blog posts and press releases.

Boehner slammed the president for putting politics before the good of the country, while the White House pointed out that Republicans are on the record opposing a short-term debt limit deal.

After talks broke down again Friday night, Boehner went to work negotiating a deal with his colleagues on Capitol Hill. At that point, it seemed the speaker had set his mind on a short-term debt deal to get the country past the August 2 deadline. (RELATED: David Brooks turns on Obama over ‘arrogance and self-superiority’)

In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Boehner publicly chided the president for continuing to push for a larger, broader deal. “I know the president’s worried about his next election,” said Boehner. “But my God, shouldn’t we be worried about the country?”

But in a blog post published Sunday night, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer highlighted some Republican members of Congress who have been explicit in their opposition to short-term deals that only push the current debate farther down the road.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, for example, told a reporter in late June that he was adamantly opposed to a short-term extension.

“I don’t see how multiple votes on a debt ceiling increase can help get us to where we want to go,” said Cantor at the time. “It is my preference that we do this thing one time…”

A spokesperson for Cantor, however, pointed out in an email to TheDC that the Majority Leader changed his position and pushed for a short-term deal once it was clear lawmakers were stuck in a stalemate.*

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also said at one point that “We are still hoping for a very large package that will impress the ratings agencies, impress foreign countries and astonish the American people that we’re actually going to come together here and take advantage of this terrific opportunity that’s provided by the president’s request of us to raise the debt ceiling.”

In turn, Boehner’s office sent out a release targeting President Obama for “desperately wanting” a long-term extension that puts him past the 2012 election, without putting in place a process “to ensure spending is being cut as the debt ceiling is being raised.”

Moreover, according to the release, “Granting the president’s request would amount to giving the president a $2.4 trillion blank check he can use to continue the spending binge…” It pointed to a recent press conference at which Obama said, “I’d rather be talking about stuff that everybody welcomes – like new programs.”

Over the weekend, Democrats and Republicans in Congress began working on their own plans to raise the debt limit. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid began work on a $2.7 trillion deficit reduction package. Boehner’s plan is less clear at this point, though it is expected to include a debt limit increase that would only last about six months. The Republican’s plan is supposed to be revealed by late Monday.

As Monday morning rolled around with no deal in sight, Asian markets took a slight dip, signaling markets are beginning to get nervous that lawmakers in D.C. won’t be able to reach an agreement.


Watch no debt deal yet: markets nervous: