Welch gets Dems’ support for debt-ceiling extension
The New YOrk Times | October 06,2013
WASHINGTON — Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont has collected the signatures of nearly 190 Democrats, including all members of the party’s House leadership team, on a letter supporting a “clean” debt-ceiling extension.
Republicans view the Affordable Care Act “as an existential threat to the country, and they are willing to use all tactics, including blowing up the economy, to get rid of Obamacare,” said Welch, a Democrat.
“If shutdown and default become legitimate tactics,” he said, “any Congress in the future could use those tactics to get their way.”
Wall Street “should be concerned,” President Barack Obama told CNBC late last week. “When you have a situation in which a faction is willing to potentially default on U.S. government obligations, then we’re in trouble.”
He added that it was important for Wall Street “to recognize that this is going to have a profound impact on our economy and their bottom lines, their employees and their shareholders.”
Meanwhile, with a budget deal still elusive and a deadline approaching on raising the debt ceiling, House Speaker John A. Boehner has told colleagues he is determined to prevent a federal default and is willing to pass a measure through a combination of Republican and Democratic votes, according to multiple House Republicans.
One lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Boehner had indicated he was willing to violate the so-called Hastert Rule if necessary to pass a debt-limit increase. The informal rule refers to a policy of not bringing to the floor any measure that does not have a majority of Republican votes.
A spokesman for Boehner pushed back on the idea that the speaker would try to pass a debt-limit increase mainly with Democratic votes but acknowledged that the speaker understood the need to head off a default.
“The speaker always, always prefers to pass legislation with a strong Republican majority,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner.
As for the debt-ceiling extension sought in Welch’s letter, Boehner has been “clear that a ‘clean’ debt hike cannot pass the House,” Steel said. “That’s why the president and Senate Democrats should drop their ‘no negotiations’ stance and work with us on a plan to raise the debt limit in a responsible way, with spending cuts and reforms to get our economy moving again and create jobs.”
It is conceivable that Boehner could pass a debt-limit increase with a slim majority of Republican votes, and Democrats making up the difference, as he has in the past on budget measures. In meetings with Republican lawmakers, the speaker appeared to be offering reassurances to members worried about the government shutdown that he would not allow a default to take place.
A Treasury Department report released Thursday said the debt-limit impasse could cause credit markets to freeze, the dollar to plummet and interest rates to rise precipitously. A default might prove catastrophic, the report said, and could potentially result “in a financial crisis and recession that could echo the events of 2008 or worse.”
The administration has made increasingly strong public warnings about the potential economic consequences of not increasing the debt limit.
“As reckless as a government shutdown is, as many people as are being hurt by a government shutdown, an economic shutdown that results from default would be dramatically worse,” Obama said.
“The United States is the center of the world economy,” Obama said, “so if we screw up, everybody gets screwed up — the whole world will have problems.”