Raising-the-debt-ceiling

Politico has never been kind to House Republicans, so maybe this morning’s Jim Vandehei, Mike Allen, and Jake Sherman item on what they will demand in exchange for a debt limit hike is just plain wrong. But if it is accurate, Republicans are in for certain failure in the coming debt limit fight. Politico reports:

To pacify conservatives, [Boehner] made two promises to his members that will greatly restrict his ability to craft a compromise in the spending fights ahead. The first promise was to bring to the floor only legislation a majority of his members support and do it through the committee process. The second was to increase the debt limit only in exchange for a dollar-for-dollar decrease in spending in the time period covered by that debt increase.

The first promise is perfectly reasonable. House Leadership should be as open and transparent as possible when crafting legislation that deals with out nation’s fiscal problems. But the second promise, “a dollar-for-dollar decrease in spending in the time period covered by that debt increase” would be no different than not raising the debt limit at all.

Remember, even though many journalists refer to raising the debt limit in units of time (months, years, etc.), the debt limit is actually measured in dollars. Currently it is set at $16.394. In the past, Boehner has traded a dollar decrease in spending over the next ten years for a dollar increase in debt limit now. But “a dollar-for-dollar decrease in spending in the time period covered by that debt increase” is a different formulation. That would be a dollar in spending cuts now for a dollar in debt limit hike now. In other words, a trillion dollar debt hike would require a trillion dollar spending cut.

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