Speaker John Boehner is huffing and puffing on a vote to raise the debt ceiling, claiming that a vote to do so isn't guaranteed by early July. Or so reports Politico. And a wire service reports that Mr. Boehner is also making noises about cutting oil company tax breaks to increase federal revenues. So much for spending being the feds' real problem.
The federal government bumps against the debt ceiling by midsummer. But the likelihood of the Speaker blowing down the debt ceiling vote is remote.
Washington-think and the conventional wisdom everywhere has it that not raising the nation's debt ceiling to yet again unprecedented levels would have a calamitous impact on financial markets and the economy. Utah Senator Mike Lee has another, decidedly more sensible opinion, at National Review Online.
The other pearl of wisdom from Democrats is that Uncle Sam's problem isn't so much spending but not enough revenue. Hence, the latest demagogic attacks on oil companies for "obscene" profits. Mr. Boehner seems to be parroting the Democrats for cheap political purposes.
The Speaker is maneuvering on the debt vote hoping to extract greater budget concessions from congressional Democrats and President Obama. Let's hope Mr. Boehner gains more than what he got from his over-hyped 2011 budget deal with the President.
What the Speaker hopes to accomplish by joining the attack on oil companies is unclear. Isn't the Speaker aware that in liberaldom no business or producer is off limits when it comes to extracting more taxes? Today its oil companies, tomorrow it's (fill in the blank).
Perhaps the Speaker should be pushing against Democrat demagoguery with calls to strip needless and cumbersome regulations on domestic oil and gas exploration and production. Perhaps the Speaker should stand tall for the gas and oil industry, which provides energy for the nation's economy and jobs.
Is the Speaker just blowing hard on a threat to nix a debt ceiling vote? This from the Politico article:
"If the president doesn't get serious about the need to address our fiscal nightmare, yeah, there's a chance it [the debt limit vote] could not happen," Boehner told POLITICO after he toured a manufacturing company in this western Ohio town. "But that's not my goal." [Italics added.]
In March, Mr. Boehner spoke on the record to the Wall Street Journal favoring debt ceiling increases.
"I think raising the debt limit is the responsible thing to do for our country, the responsible thing for our economy," Mr. Boehner said. "If we were to fail to increase the debt limit, we would send our economy into a tailspin."
Sounds like Washington-think, huh? Make that double when factoring in Mr. Boehner's bash the oil companies pile-on.
Sure, Mr. Boehner's debt ceiling vote semi-threat might have more substance to it given the right's stepped up pressure. But unless there's a serious rebellion among House conservatives -- the freshmen, in particular -- expect the feds' debt limit to grow yet again. In return, the Speaker will extract some modest concessions from President Obama and congressional Democrats.
But if the Speaker pleases, spare us the Victory-Over-Obama hype. With federal debts and deficits touching near Mariana Trench depths, a higher debt limit and more borrowing isn't what the nation needs. And how about backing off the business-bashing, Mr. Speaker? How about standing up for the nation's producers?