House Speaker John A. Boehner set the stage Tuesday for another tense, partisan showdown over tax and spending policy later this year, as he vowed to insist on big spending cuts before he will agree to a new debt ceiling -- much like last summer's debt showdown debacle -- and he also promised a vote before November's elections on whether to prevent Bush-era tax cuts from expiring at year's end, as scheduled.
Boehner's address to a Washington budget forum had chilling echoes of the 2011 clash over increasing the debt ceiling, a weeks-long standoff between the Obama White House and Republicans in the House of Representatives that roiled financial markets, led to a downgrade of federal credit and nearly forced much of the government to close.
Another vote on raising the debt ceiling is expected later this year, probably after the Nov. 6 elections. Boehner, R-Ohio, on Tuesday pledged to make it an "action-forcing event in a town that has become infamous for inaction. When the time comes, I will again insist on my simple principle of cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase. This is the only avenue I see right now to force the elected leadership of this country to solve our structural fiscal imbalance."
He also pledged to fight to extend Bush-era tax cuts, now set to expire at the end of this year, and called on President Obama to join him.
"If there's one action-forcing event that trumps all the rest -- even the debt limit -- it's presidential leadership," Boehner said.
"Republicans are once again choosing millionaires over the middle class and Speaker Boehner is threatening to take our nation into another manufactured crisis that will harm America's families," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Added Senate Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Charles E. Schumer of New York, "The last thing the country needs is a rerun of last summer's debacle that nearly brought down our economy."
"Everyone except for elected members of Congress, the Republican Party, agrees with that general proposition that we need to take a balanced approach to our deficit and debt challenges," said spokesman Jay Carney. "A balanced approach" to deficit reduction is Democratic shorthand for a package including tax increases as well as spending cuts.