The Obama administration will not negotiate over the debt limit again according to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. From CNBC:
The president is “not going to be negotiating over the debt limit,” Lew told CNBC. “Congress has already authorized funding, committed us to make expenditures. We’re now in a place where the only question is, will we pay the bills that the United States has incurred?” Answering his own question, Lew stressed there can be no question about that.
As part their budget-reduction strategy, Republicans have been trying to repeal and defund the president’s health-care law. But Lew said the White House won’t accept any delay or defunding of Obamacare.
During his first term President Obama helped create a monster. When a few Republicans were floating the idea of holding the debt limit hostage instead of shooting the idea down right away Obama said he was open to significant discussions about the debt limit. Obama thought it would be a clever way to force Republicans and liberal Democrats into agreeing to his long sought goal of a “grand bargain.” Instead the whole thing blew up in Obama’s face.
Obama not only failed to get his grand bargain, but it made Republicans think the debt limit was a real leverage point. At the same time the whole stupid display did real damage to the economy.
Now the administration has to spend years saying they “will not negotiate” to try to restore the healthier dynamic they so foolishly destroyed. Although Obama refusing to negotiate last time forced the GOP to fold, it will probably take several more showdowns to break the idea of it as a leverage point. Since the concept is incredibly appealing to a party which only holds a single chamber of Congress, it will take awhile to convince members and the base it doesn’t work.
The good news at least is that it appears Obama will not try to use the debt limit to again force his grand bargain.