WASHINGTON D.C. —
This “no budget, no pay” idea had previously been regarded by many as a gimmick but has been given new life by Boehner as a “reform” to pair with an increase in the so-called debt limit. Boehner previously had insisted that any increase in borrowing authority to avoid lapses in payments to contractors, unemployment benefits or Social Security checks — and possibly even interest payments on U.S. Treasury obligations — be matched dollar for dollar with spending cuts. Many Republican speakers preferred to focus on the pay provision.
“This is not a gimmick,” said Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, R-Pa. “For the past almost going on now four years, our colleagues in the Senate have failed in their most basic responsibility of governance, which is to pass a budget.”
“All we’re saying is ‘Congress follow the law. Do your work. Budget,’” said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. “And the reason for this (debt) extension is so that we can have the (budget) debate we need to have.”
Boehner promises that the GOP blueprint will project a balanced budget at the end of a 10-year window.
“Balancing the budget over the next 10 years means that we save the future for our kids and our grandkids,” Boehner said. “It also means that we strengthen programs like Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid that can’t continue to exist in their current form without some kind of controls.”
But the White House weighed in Tuesday with a statement that the administration would not oppose the debt measure, even though Obama just last week dismissed incremental increases in the debt ceiling as harmful to the economy.
It also appeared virtually certain that Senate Democrats would accept the bill even though they would prefer a longer-term solution to the debt issue and believe that the “no budget, no pay” provision is silly.