Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
From House Speaker John Boehner, staking out an early position on the upcoming fight to raise the nation's debt ceiling:
The president says I want you to send me a clean bill. Well guess what, Mr. President, not a chance you’re going to get a clean bill. There will not be an increase in the debt limit without something really, really big attached to it.
This is hardly a surprise. We've been talking for months about how there's going to be a big battle over the debt ceiling, and obviously big battles have to be fought over something. Boehner is just being a little more bellicose about this than usual.
So what's the "really, really big" thing that Boehner has in mind? Maybe I'm being obtuse, but I'm at a bit of a loss over this. I don't think Boehner can get away with demanding concessions on side issues like Planned Parenthood or EPA regs. He lost on that already, and his position won't be any better in a couple of months. As for straight budget issues, what's the point? The House is working on a budget right now and it will land on the president's desk soon enough. That's the place for a fight over FY2012 outlays.
So what else is there? Some kind of deal on slashing Medicare? Maybe, but I'd be pretty surprised if Boehner really wanted to tie the Republican Party to big Medicare cuts in an extremely public battle like this. Permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts? Something else?
I know that I'm demonstrating a lack of imagination here, but I'm hard-pressed to see what kind of big things Boehner can really attach to a debt ceiling bill. Help me out.