On the heels of U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., publicly saying Republicans will look for something in return for raising the debt ceiling, the White House has, in no ambiguous terms, said President Barack Obama will not budge from his previous position of refusing to negotiate on the issue.
“We have not and will not change our position,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. “Nor do we expect Republicans to go down that road again.”
The road Carney speaks of is the possibility of another fiscal crisis. The last time Republicans tried to demand a ransom from the administration and congressional Democrats, the government shut down for 16 days and the U.S. economy took a $24 billion hit. Unlike the funding lapse in October that caused a U.S. government shutdown, gridlock on the debt ceiling has far-reaching consequences. The debt ceiling is the maximum amount of money the U.S. Treasury can borrow at one time. A default would affect U.S. creditworthiness -- which would likely have a rippling effect on financial markets, with destructive consequences for the economy, most economists agree.
Carney said it’s “simply unconscionable” for the administration to imagine that Republicans would try to extract concessions for paying the bills.
“I’m not going to anticipate a decision from Republicans to do that again,” he said. “The president’s position has not and will not change.”
However, it appears that some type of Republican roadblock on the debt limit is coming, whether the White House expects it or not. Lawmakers suspended the debt limit until Feb. 7. According to Ryan, House and Senate Republicans will meet to determine what exactly they want out of that deal.
“We don’t want ‘nothing’ out of this debt limit,” Ryan said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We’re going to decide what it is we can accomplish out of this debt limit fight. One of the problems or concerns I have with the debt limit is we don’t know when it’s going to hit.”
Ryan said that because U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew ultimately has discretion over determining when the limit has been breached, the timing of this happening “is very much in doubt.” Republicans will meet at retreats following the holiday to draft a game plan.