“President Barack Obama made a demand of House Speaker John Boehner near the end of their first White House meeting on the fiscal cliff: Raise the debt limit before year’s end.
Boehner responded: ‘There is a price for everything.’”
There is a price for everything. How lovely.
I’ll tell you what the price OUGHT to be: $223,500. That’s how much Boehner is paid each year by the taxpayers of this country to do his job. And as Boehner knows as well as anyone, a basic part of that job is ensuring that the government does not default on its debt.
Let’s be clear: Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize so much as a penny more in spending. It merely allows the Treasury to borrow the money to pay the bills that previous Congresses and presidents have already incurred. If Boehner can’t or won’t handle that basic responsibility, he needs to resign.
This is really amazing if you think about it. In the 18 times that the debt ceiling had to be raised under Ronald Reagan, did it ever once cross Speaker Tip O’Neill’s mind to tell the president that, well, “There is a price for everything”?
On one of the seven occasions in which the debt ceiling had to be raised under President Eisenhower, did Speaker Sam Rayburn ever sidle up and say “Ike, you know, there is a price for everything”?
No. It was unthinkable. Rayburn, O’Neill and other speakers were horse-traders at heart, but they were also patriots who understood that some things just aren’t negotiable commodities, and the full faith and credit of the United States is one of them. Even Newt Gingrich balked at playing that card. And why?
Because in effect, Boehner and his fellow House Republicans are threatening to do great damage to this country if their “price” is not paid. They’re trying to shake down the president of the United States, using the welfare of the country as their hostage.
“Splendid little country you have here. It would be a tragedy if anything were to happen to it.”
It’s no better than a husband trying to win an argument with his wife by threatening to do harm to one of their kids. “Leverage,” Boehner calls it. It’s despicable, and Obama ought to call his bluff.
– Jay Bookman