The doubting Thomases heard loud and clear tonight from House Speaker John Boehner that there are two lines in the sand.
First, there will be no more 1982 or 1990 “Andrews Air Force Base” or “Gang of Six” deals that raise taxes and promise spending restraint. Tax increases are off the table. Boehner and 235 other members of the House of Representatives have signed the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” — a written pledge to their voters that they will oppose and vote against any net tax hike. (Forty-one Senators have signed the same pledge.) The Washington spending establishment has been hoping that Boehner and the Republican House majority would weaken and fold before Obama’s threats to close down the government if he didn’t get his tax and spending increases. They did not win, and tonight was Boehner’s “Read My Lips” speech . . . No tax increases, period.
Second, and this is sheer genius, Boehner has put a sliding-scale price on debt-ceiling increases. Hey, Obama, you want to buy a debt ceiling increase of, say, $2 trillion that would take you past the next election? Fine, the going price is two trillion dollars in real spending cuts. Cannot afford that and hold your spending coaliton in place? Fine, you can buy a month of debt-ceiling relief, worth about $125 billion, for the reduced price of $125 billion in spending cuts. The price of the debt-ceiling hike is the the same amount — or more — of real spending cuts.
I like the idea of a debt-ceiling-increase vote every month or two. Keeps Obama on a short leash.