The second most powerful Democrat in the Senate warned Republicans Sunday that they are toying with a fragile economy and would take the blame for any fallout from a debt default.
On Sunday, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he
had six words of warning for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio): “If you break
it, you own it.”
Durbin slammed Boehner for calling off debt-ceiling negotiations with the White House on Friday.
“The president negotiated with you in good faith,” Durbin
said he would tell Boehner. “You walked away from it. Twice.”
Boehner said he called off negotiations with the president on Friday because the president pushed for increased revenues beyond the level to which Republicans could agree. President Obama said Boehner walked away from a good deal for both sides.
Republicans have said they expect failed deficit
negotiations to reflect badly on President Obama’s leadership.
“[Republicans] want to make this a campaign issue,” Durbin said, pushing back against Boehner and other Republicans including Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) who have criticized the president for wanting even a temporary raise of the debt ceiling to last through the next election.
The White House has said that extending the debt ceiling at least in until 2013 will remove politics from the equation. Boehner said Sunday that the president is “worried about his next election” rather than thinking about the country.
Durbin argued that a short-term extension of the debt ceiling that only lasted a few months would be bad for the country.
“This notion that we're going to replay this movie in four to five months, that we're going to face this whole thing all over again? The American economy is too fragile,” Durbin said on CBS’ Face the Nation. “It's going to hurt us. It's going to stall our economy.”
Senate Democratic leadership has been working nonstop to reach a deal, according to Durbin. “It needs to happen today,” he said, indicating Democrats are working under a deadline similar to that of the Republicans. Boehner’s office said Republicans intend to release a plan by before the Asian markets open Sunday afternoon.