Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Solution to debt ceiling crisis is obvious, but could cost John Boehner his job

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Editor’s note: At press time, a tentative agreement has been reached. But this formula will be necessary as long as the GOP is in charge of the House in similar legislative battles.

Looking for a last-minute secret solution to averting the debt ceiling crisis? You are, of course. But what about Congress?

This solution is guaranteed to work, but would likely cost John Boehner his job as Speaker of the House.

We are used to the Speaker of the House being a politically partisan figure, so we forget that the Speaker’s role is supposed to be Speaker of the Whole House, not just one side of the room.

Speaker Boehner has 218 votes in the House of Representatives to extend the debt ceiling; he just doesn’t have 218 Republican votes to do so. The parties in power could write a simple debt ceiling extension, maybe within Herman Cain’s requirements of a 3-page bill, include some obvious cuts and obvious revenue sources (obvious by Congressional standards), and pass it with Democratic votes and a few Republicans who believe we shouldn’t default. Once the bill passes the House, the Democratic-controlled Senate would pass it quickly. And President Obama would sign it just in time, as long as they limit him to 20 pens for the signing ceremony.

Then Speaker Boehner would have a tea party riot on his hands, but he would come across as the adult missing from this pseudo-battle.

His alternatives aren’t much better. If Boehner can’t get 218 votes going the traditional route, he will be seen as weak, will get the lion’s share of blame, and only hangs on as long as he serves the teabaggers.

If he follows the solution above, the teabaggers will walk over to Eric Cantor or someone similar, and hand them the reins of the House. Then again, the same coalition that would have passed the debt ceiling bill could also keep Boehner in power. Yes, that would mean Democratic votes would save Boehner’s job. Then again, this is an unusual circumstance.

Tough choices, true. But Speakers of the House are two heartbeats from the presidency; a lot is at stake, especially in the current dilemma.

Going the nontraditional, yet old-school route might not save his job, but it will save his and Congress’ integrity, and America’s bottom line.


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