As I suggested last week, congressional Republicans don’t have to play around with the debt ceiling in order to make sure spending is cut during the next two months. And it appears that approach is more or less what they’re doing. From the Washington Post:
As House Republicans prepared to vote Wednesday on a plan to suspend the debt limit, Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan made clear that the party is in no way abandoning its uncompromising approach to the budget battle with President Obama.
Republicans will insist that automatic spending cuts take effect March 1 unless other cuts are adopted, Ryan said. They may force a shutdown of the government on March 27 unless Democrats agree to additional cuts. And they will demand that any future increase in the debt limit – likely to be necessary this summer if the measure to suspend the current debt limit is adopted — be paired dollar-for-dollar with spending cuts or other reforms.
“We have a sequester kicking in on March 1, a continuing resolution [on the budget] expiring on March the 27. We have budgets that, if the Senate decides to do its job this year, will come out in April,” Ryan said Wednesday at a breakfast with reporters. “These are the kind of points we think force the kind of conversation we think we have to have.”
The suspension of the debt ceiling passed, although I would have much preferred to see a raise for a specific amount of money rather than time. But I still like the general tactic of taking the debt ceiling — and nonstop cries about defaulting on the debt — out of the discussion and relying on the sequester to force the action on spending cuts.
The question now is whether we’ll get the sequester, some other kind of cuts (preferably the kind that address the long-term solvency of entitlements), or whether the House GOP will lose its nerve.
– By Kyle Wingfield