Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) is once again trying to increase pressure on House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) as the debate over raising the debt ceiling heats up on Capitol Hill. In advance of Boehner’s speech this evening at the Economic Club of New York, Schumer called on Boehner to “not be cute” with the debt ceiling, warning that failing to raise it would be “playing with fire“:
“There is one standard and one standard alone for evaluating his speech [tonight],” Schumer said. “The speaker should not be cute about it… the speaker must declare that the House will act on the debt ceiling in a timely way… [and] the idea of refusing to raise the debt ceiling should be taken off the table.”
Schumer added that markets might begin to destabilize by mid-July if Congress doesn’t act. “This is playing with fire.”
Schumer said the speech will be a “litmus test” as to whether Republicans are approaching the debt ceiling debate “as adults.” A number of House Republicans have expressed their unwillingness to raise the debt ceiling or have demanded a long list of significant concessions such as the “complete defunding of Obamacare” in exchange for doing so. Earlier today, Boehner took criticism from Tea Party leaders who gathered at the National Press Club to “attack Boehner’s leadership on the Debt Ceiling.”
Schumer did suggest Democrats are open to the idea of tying deficit reduction measures to a vote to increase the debt limit, namely a proposal floated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) to “deficit caps” that would trigger automatics spending cuts and tax hikes if Congress failed to meet them, as opposed to the legislation proposed by Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) that would place caps exclusively on spending.
Schumer called the Corker plan “impossible” because it does not include raising taxes as an option. Which is interesting, because the one thing Boehner and other Republicans leaders have made clear regarding the negotiations over the debt limit is that tax increases are off the table.
Congressional leader will meet with Vice President Joe Biden for the second time on Tuesday to discuss the debt limit.
UPDATE: A key line from Boehner’s speech regarding the GOP position on spending cuts in exchange for debt limit increase: “Without significant spending cuts and reforms to reduce our debt, there will be no debt limit increase. And the cuts should be greater than the accompanying increase in debt authority the president is given. We should be talking about cuts of trillions, not just billions.”