The House GOP leadership needs your help with the debt ceiling.
Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has made it clear, as have other top House Republicans, that the U.S. will not default on its debt. So sometime in the next two weeks or so, Congress will have to give the Treasury more authority to borrow money. Otherwise, it will have to start stiffing creditors around the end of the month.*
But a large portion of Boehner's membership is unwilling to raise the debt ceiling without getting something in return. The problem for the leadership has been finding a concession that 218 House Republicans will support.
Some members are itching for another fight over Obamacare: repealing the tax on medical devices, for example, or eliminating the "risk corridors" provision that conservatives have branded a bailout of the insurance industry. Others want to require the administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Still others want to undo the changes in military pensions that Congress agreed to as part of December's budget deal.
The leadership hasn't embraced any of these ideas because the votes don't seem to be there. The top priority is to avoid the kind of face-plant that happened in October, when House Republicans, egged on by tea-party friendly Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), started a fight they could not possibly win.
And with Democrats floundering under the albatross that is Obamacare, now is not the time for Republicans to make themselves look even less competent and trustworthy.
So, how should the House GOP leadership handle the debt ceiling? Take our admittedly unscientific poll, leave a comment below, or do both.
* I know there are some readers who doggedly insist that the United States collects more than enough money each month to avoid a default even if the debt ceiling isn't raised. Under this view, the Treasury prioritizes its bills to make sure it pays all the interest due on Treasury securities, keeping bondholders happy. But it's risible to think that Wall Street -- or federal contractors, Social Security recipients or others who didn't receive the payments they were due -- would calmly accept the Treasury not paying roughly one-third of the government's bills.
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