Maybe Republicans Won’t Play Chicken On The Debt Ceiling After All

It looks like the GOP is having second thoughts about the idea of playing a game of chicken with the bond markets over the debt ceiling:

Republicans want a short-term increase to the debt ceiling if the talks led by Vice President Biden do not produce sufficient spending cuts, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday.

Kyl, who is representing Senate Republicans in the high-level talks, said his caucus largely agrees with House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) demand that the increase in the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling be paired with even bigger spending reductions.

“As a general proposition — we haven’t taken a vote or anything in our conference — but I think everybody sees that as a minimum goal, that there has to be at least as many dollars in cuts as there are in an increase in the debt ceiling,” Kyl said.

Negotiators in the Biden talks are looking for a way to increase the debt ceiling enough so that it does not need to be raised again until the end of 2012, after the next election. Kyl said that timeline would require a debt-ceiling increase of $2.4 trillion.

But Kyl said the GOP would look to a shorter-term increase in the debt ceiling if the talks fail to produce more than $2.5 trillion in cuts.

“If we can’t get about two and a half trillion in real savings, then I don’t think there’d be much of an appetite on our side to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion,” he told reporters Tuesday.

Kyl said the spending cuts could take effect over 10 years or more.

Pushing this issue out past the 2012 elections would seem to be the rational thing to do, and it would give both parties the chance to put before the voters their respective vision of how to deal with the debt problem. But, even a short-term increase, akin to a Continuing Resolution, would be better than the current situation, and far better than letting August 2nd come and go with nothing being done.


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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Tsar Nicholas says:

    True. Outside the dueling fever swamps it’s beyond obvious that this kerfuffle can and should be resolved via compromise. Obama certainly doesn’t need higher interest rates. That would make a bad economic situation downright Hooverish. The GOP certainly doesn’t want to go full Gingrich and give Grandma Democrat a reason to get all motivated to vote next year. The Kyl framework appears sound. There’ll be some last-minute posturing and gnashing of teeth but something along those lines will get done.

  2. ratufa says:

    The Republicans are OK with short-term extensions in exchange for spending cuts. For example:

    There’s no reason to think they’ll stop engaging in brinksmanship if the Democrats don’t go along.