If John Boehner thinks the next hostage is the debt ceiling, he's got another think coming. His pal Bill Kristol laid the foundation on Morning Joe by informing all viewers a negotiation "must take place."
NO. What part of that two letter word is so difficult for John Boehner to understand?
House Republicans tell me Speaker John Boehner wants to craft a “grand bargain” on fiscal issues as part of the debt-limit deliberations, and during a series of meetings on Wednesday, he urged colleagues to stick with him.
The revelation came quietly. Boehner called groups of members to his Capitol office all day, taking their temperature on the shutdown and the debt limit. It became clear, members say, that Boehner’s chief goal is conference unity as the debt limit nears, and he’s looking at potentially blending a government-spending deal and debt-limit agreement into a larger budget package.
“It’s the return of the grand bargain,” says one House Republican, who requested anonymity to speak freely. “There weren’t a lot of specifics discussed, and the meetings were mostly about just checking in. But he’s looking hard at the debt limit as a place where we can do something big.”
Beyond Boehner’s office, the leadership is sending out a similar message through its emissaries. The House GOP’s most influental fiscal strategists, Dave Camp and Paul Ryan, are privately reassuring nervous members that the shutdown may be painful in the short term, but a budget deal is in the works — and they should be enthused about what they’re cooking up.
“Ryan is selling this to everybody; he’s getting back to his sweet spot,” says a second House Republican who’s close with the Wisconsin congressman. “He and Camp are going to be Boehner’s guys. That’s why Boehner put them on the CR conference committee; he knows these guys are going to be his point men as this whole thing plays out.”
Too many of us remember 2011, when the country nearly went over the cliff because John Boehner pretended he wanted a Grand Bargain then but couldn't bring the Tea Party along with him. Today is no different. They spent all of July 2011 pretending they gave a damn about negotiations and then pulled out when default was less than 48 hours away.
There will be no negotiations over the debt ceiling. This is Boehner trying to walk back what Ted Cruz has wrought, and he will not bring the tea party conservatives over that line with him, nor should any Democrat who thinks a grand bargain is a good idea receive any support for that harebrained idea.
No grand bargain. Nothing less than a clean debt ceiling raise and a clean CR out to November 15th. Then Boehner can deal with whatever he plans to strike as a bargain.
I'm not saying they won't try and strike one. I'm sure there are a lot of people in Congress who would like to do that. But timing is everything here, and Boehner is not going to be able to roll up a budget and ram it through both houses in two weeks. It's not going to happen.
If he wants to play negotiating games, he's going to release the hostages first.