John Boehner’s going to force Obama to negotiate on the debt limit one more time

John Boehner is on his way out of Congress, but that doesn’t mean he’s done holding the United States’ government over a barrel.

With deadlines to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling looming, Boehner is hashing out a deal with President Obama, Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi that would address pretty much every major legislative issue currently on the House’s docket through next year, taking them off the table as issues for the 2016 presidential campaign.

As Boehner said, quoted by the Hill, he wants to “clean the barn up a little bit” before the next Speaker (presumably Paul Ryan, but given the House GOP’s inability to govern itself, who knows?) takes over.

The deal, the details of which are still being hashed out, would fund the government and raise the debt ceiling through 2016, reauthorize the Export-Import Bank for one year (or not, depending on who you ask), and fund highways and other infrastructure programs — possibly for as many as six years.

The bill would also address the sequester — across the board cuts that hit large spending programs near and dear to both Democrats and Republicans. While Boehner wants the sequester lifted for defense programs only, Democrats want the sequester lifted for non-defense programs as well.

And apparently, they’re willing to put permanent cuts to Medicare and Social Security on the table in order to make that happen. Again from the Hill:

President Obama and John Boehner schmoozing, via Wikimedia Commons

President Obama and John Boehner schmoozing, via Wikimedia Commons

The deal is also likely to prevent the double-digit premium hikes that would hit 8 million Medicare enrollees in 2016.

Averting the 52 percent premium increases has been a priority for Pelosi and could help win Democratic support for the package.

She began talks on the topic with Boehner in mid-September. Staving off the increases is expected to cost about $7.5 billion, and Democratic aides have said Pelosi’s office was quietly negotiating with Boehner on the offsets

Or, as the New York Times reported, “officials briefed on the negotiations said the emerging accord would call for cuts in spending on Medicare and Social Security disability benefits.”

This being the case, it appears that even if the eventual deal includes sequester relief for both defense and social safety net spending, the safety net will be cut elsewhere while the defense budget won’t. So Republicans will get what they want — more defense spending coupled with continued with safety net cuts — while Democrats will be able to tell their constituents that they protected Medicare and Social Security when they in fact left them at existing, reduced rates.

One would think that no one should be able to exercise this much leverage over something as non-negotiable as the debt limit, but given the uncertainty surrounding the House GOP’s ability to perform even the most basic functions of government, an outgoing Boehner can. Never mind the fact that 2011’s credit downgrade, which was induced by Boehner’s own brinksmanship over the debt limit, cost the government $18.9 billion over ten years in higher interest payments on our existing debt — to say nothing of the havoc it wreaked on our (and the global) economy.

Which means that, once again, the Democratic Party and its constituents are likely to lose out due to their crime of being at least somewhat committed to governing responsibly. They’ve played this game of chicken with Republicans before, and they’ve lost nearly every time, which is bound to happen when it has become a core tenet of the Republican Party that we must burn government to the ground in order to save it.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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15 Responses to “John Boehner’s going to force Obama to negotiate on the debt limit one more time”

  1. Bill_Perdue says:

    Since the Carter Administration both parties have gutted social programs, gutted unions and gutted the standard of living of working people. They’ll continue to do so until they’re politically neutralized by a workers government and a workers state.

  2. koolaidyarn says:

    I look forward to your comments, and appreciate the time you take to add to the discussions. Thank you for being an active and thoughtful participant. :)

  3. stephan ostanock says:

    Then let the Rethugs hang themselves ! and shut it down, no bargaining period, the debt limit ! BILLS MUST BE PAID !

  4. BeccaM says:

    You’re very kind, Indigo, and I really appreciate your taking the time to say so.

  5. mf_roe says:

    No price too high when someone else pays, they GET we PAY.

  6. Indigo says:

    Your comments are informative and well thought out. I read them habitually. This untouchable budget is the price of what the conservatives are pleased to call “the price of freedom.” Seeing how conservative paranoia continues to peel away the layers of our freedom, it’s beginning to look like what they call “freedom” is not worth the price we’re paying.

  7. BeccaM says:

    I know I comment a lot, but here all I can say is this development is very depressing. Once again, the military’s untouchable budget will be balanced on the backs of the poor, the disabled, and the elderly.

  8. mf_roe says:

    Given the limits that Boehner has had to deal with he has bested Obama more than Obama has managed him, if Boehner hadn’t had to deal with his in house lunatics he could have done even more harm. Ryan isn’t nearly the operator that “Bar Baby” is, if Obama is smart he will fight the fight with Ryan not Boehner.

  9. mf_roe says:

    Obama has nothing to lose if he sells us down the river. If he fights he risks who knows what in terms of repug push back. I don’t expect him to fold, but I wouldn’t be surprised either. Crashing the economy because he dared the repugs to a pissing contest is an awful big sword to expect him to fall on.

  10. mf_roe says:

    Apparently some receiving Medicare part B are “grandfathered” from premium increases caused by lower than expected savings in healthcare under AHC. The recipients NOT grandfathered will be stunned with HUGE increases 55%. That AHC has failed to perform can be laid both at Dems and Repugs doorsteps, the dems produced an inferior product and the repugs have worked tirelessly to insure that it was sabotaged at every turn.
    I don’t have any numbers on what percentage of part B people are affected, but I believe it is a minority of the total covered.

  11. Indigo says:

    All I’ve read so far is “The sky is falling, the sky is falling” material. Except for one report that attempted to explain the statistics behind the increase which, according to the report would only affect a few at the high end of the payment spectrum. So, no. Nothing serious yet.

  12. Sally says:

    Boehner is slime. Anyone who hires him (and someone will, because he ‘knows people’) should be ashamed. But since the GOP has no shame, and since their goal in life is to fund the military-industrial complex, and ignore anyone who manages to crawl out of their useless wars alive, and hand over most of the US wealth to a select few, I am not surprised. Heaven forbid the GOP ever does something for the people. Now watch, the GOP candidates will be throwing their chests out and claiming the GOP fought Obama for infrastructure improvements and WON! They wanted to, over Dem objections, secure the debt ceiling for two years, and WON! They wanted to control spending, but keep us safe by handing over more tax money to the bloated military, and they WON! Boehner is stupid, but not insane. This is his gift to those running next year: see, now you can tell the rubes that we did get something done despite the mean lying obstructionist Democrats. And they will swallow it like they do everything else dripped down their throats. Pitiful.

  13. iamlegion says:

    Umm…exactly what authority does Boehner think he’s negotiating _with_? What’s the over-under on whatever deal he works out with Obama being immediately reneged on by the Teatard caucus? How can _anyone_ not fully expect those demented children not to stick a knife in his back _again_?

  14. Mark J says:

    When a child throws a tantrum, the very worst thing you can do is give them what they want.

    The worst part of this deal is that it takes the issue off of the table until after the 2016 election, which is what the GOP wants most of all. They don’t want to go into the election with an electorate pissed because they shut down the government. Especially the GOP’s core base of seniors who would stop getting their government Social Security checks and their lovely Medicare socialist welfare.

  15. emjayay says:

    Has anyone read a serious report on those projected huge Medicare premium increases, like about why and what part of the population would be theoretically affected?

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