(WASHINGTON) -- Speaker of the House John Boehner on Monday will set down a new marker in the high-stakes debate over raising the federal debt limit: spending cuts should be greater than any increase in the amount the government can borrow.
“Without significant spending cuts and reforms to reduce our debt, there will be no debt limit increase,” Boehner was scheduled to say in a speech to the New York Economic Club, according to excerpts released by his office. “And the cuts should be greater than the accompanying increase in debt authority the president is given.”
The Obama administration hasn’t said yet how much it wants the debt limit increased, but the last increase was $1.9 trillion. To meet Boehner’s new requirement, a debt limit increase of anywhere near that amount would require massive reductions in government spending without precedent in American history.
Last month, the government was brought to the brink of shutdown over a deal that cut spending by $38.5 billion dollars.
“We should be talking about cuts of trillions, not just billions,” Boehner was scheduled to say. “They should be actual cuts and program reforms, not broad deficit or debt targets that punt the tough questions to the future. And with the exception of tax hikes -- which will destroy jobs -- everything is on the table. That includes honest conversations about how best to preserve Medicare, because we all know, with millions of Baby Boomers beginning to retire, the status quo is unsustainable.”
Boehner was not expected to specify over what period of time his “trillions” in cuts would happen, but even if it is over a decade, it would likely be impossible to achieve those numbers without reducing spending on the government’s most popular, and previously untouchable, big-ticket programs: Social Security, Medicare and Defense.
Top administration officials from the president on down have warned that failing to increase the debt limit would cause the government to default on its debt with catastrophic economic consequences. Many economists and much of the business community agrees with that, but Boehner was scheduled to say that failing to cut spending would also have devastating economic consequences.
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