On day six of the shutdown, Speaker of the House, John Boehner says “he is not yet ready to pass a clean government funding resolution that would reopen the government this week,” according to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, Sunday, Oct. 6. Boehner also said he “is not yet ready to pass a clean extension of the debt limit — a far more serious crisis that could be coming within the next 10 days or so,” reported Stephanopoulos Sunday morning. Boehner and House Republicans refuse to end the government shutdown although, according to ABC News, all the polls indicate that the majority of Americans blame Republicans for the stalemate and shutdown. The president and Democrats hold firm, say they are not “going to negotiate around this debt limit or around the government shutdown,” says Stephanopoulos. George reasons that “the trick at the end is going to be for the president to make some kind of concession to the Republicans to give them an exit ramp, as well as not admitting that he’s doing it.”
George Stephanopoulos recapped current votes on passing a clean extension of the debt limit with Speaker John Boehner in an exclusive interview on ABC’s This Week, Sunday, Oct. 6. Boehner insisted there were not votes to pass a clean ceiling. Stephanopoulos responded, “Are you sure that’s true? The Democrats say they have 195 Democrats who've already signed a letter saying that they would vote for it. Twenty-one ... House Republicans have said they are for it, as well. And, Democrats are confident if you add those Republicans to the Democrats a few more would come along, and they’d have the votes.”
Boehner countered with, “The American people expect in Washington when we have a crisis like this the leaders will sit down and have a conversation. And, I told my members the other day that there may be a back room, somewhere, but there’s nobody in it. We’re interested in having a conversation about how we can open the government, and how we’d begin to pay our bills.” Stephanopoulos replied, “Well you had a conversation at the White House. The Democrats, including Senate Democrat Harry Reid, has said he’s more than willing to have a conference, more than willing to have a negotiation, but not under the threat of a government shutdown, not under the threat of default.” Boehner said, “So, it’s ‘my way or the highway.’ That’s what he’s saying. ‘Complete surrender, and then we’ll talk to you.’”
Speaker Boehner is so wired, set on getting his theory aired, that he ignores George saying, “That’s not what ...” rushing on to add, “Listen. It’s about having a conversation. I gave the Senate majority leader some advice at the White House about how to proceed. I gave him some advice over a week ago, about how to avert this. And, yet, they refuse to do it.” The speaker sounding as though he is the commander-in-chief, crosses his arms at the wrist, with a sense of being satisfied that he has given the right answer to a bemused Stephanopoulos, who said, “But Mr. Speaker, he [Reid] says — and he said it publicly on many occasions — that you came to him back in July and offered to pass a clean government funding resolution — no Obamacare amendments. It was $70 billion below what the Senate wanted. They accepted it, and now you've reneged on that offer.”
The speaker admits, “Now, clearly there was a conversation about doing this.” To which George says, “Several conversations.” Boehner admits, “Several.” And, Stephanopoulos said, “And you offered a clean resolution.” Speaker Boehner says, “But, I and my members have decided that the threat of Obamacare and what was happening was so important that it was time for us to take a stand.” George asked, “Did you decide or was it decided for you?” Boehner responded, “I, working with my members, decided to do this in a unified way.”
George reminded the speaker of words the speaker had spoken concerning Obamacare in an interview he had done with Diane Sawyer shortly after the election, “Mr. Speaker this is clearly not what you wanted.” In that interview, Boehner said, “It’s pretty clear that the president was reelected and Obamacare is the law of the land.” On a March 13 airing of The Sean Hannity Show, the speaker said, “If we were to put Obamacare into the CR and send it over to the Senate, we were risking shutting down the government. That is not our goal.”
To George asking, “Under no circumstances are you going to pass a clean debt limit increase,” Boehner hostilely replied, “We are not going to pass a clean debt limit increase! I told the president there’s no way we’re going to pass ... when the votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit! And the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us.”
Boehner admits, “It is time to deal with America’s problems. How can you raise the debt limit, and do nothing about the underlying problem? We've spent more than what we've brought in for 55 of the last 60 years. This year, the federal government will have more revenue than any year in the history of our country, and yet we’re still going to have a nearly $700 billion budget deficit.” He claims that “the president is putting the nation at risk by his refusal to sit down and have a conversation.” George counters with, “He says you’re putting it at risk by your refusal to pass the clean debt limit ... There have been some reports that you have told your own members that you would be willing to put a debt limit on the floor that would pass the Democratic votes even if it didn’t get a majority of the Republican caucus. Is that no longer true?” Boehner would only repeat his complaints, ending with “I want to deal with our underlying spending problems ... [The president] knows what my number is. All he has to do is call ... I do not want the United States to default on this debt. But, I am not going to raise the debt limit without a serious conversation about dealing with problems that are driving the debt up!” He went on to say, “The president got $650 billion of new revenues on January the first. He got us revenues. Now, it’s time to talk about the spending problems ... Very simple — we’re not raising taxes.”
Confusing. Was the “not raising taxes” a slip of the speaker’s tongue? Did he intend to say the debt limit? It seems the speaker is saying he wants to talk to the president about how the new revenues are to be budgeted and spent. Then, after that conversation with the president, Boehner and the House GOP will release the country as hostage and pay our debts.
The GOP still refuses to end the stalemate. Less than 11 days to go before the country’s bills become due and payable.