Boehner says Dems are only ones talking about brinkmanship on debt

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) defended his push this week for early talks on raising the debt limit, saying “the only ones who are talking about drama or brinkmanship are my Democrat colleagues across the aisle.”

The Speaker took many in Washington by surprise when he laid down an early marker during a Tuesday speech at a fiscal summit, pledging to stick to his demand last year that the next increase in the debt ceiling be accompanied by greater spending cuts and reforms.

The nation is not expected to hit its borrowing limit until after the November election or early next year, but Boehner warned that leaders must start talking now about the crush of big-ticket items Congress must address before Jan. 1. They include the beginning of $1.2 trillion in automatic, across-the-board spending cuts and the expiration of the George W. Bush-era tax rates.

“I said we should not wait until the eleventh hour to address these issues, and the only ones who are talking about drama or brinkmanship are my Democrat colleagues across the aisle,” Boehner said Thursday during his weekly Capitol press conference.

Indeed, Democrats reacted angrily to Boehner’s speech, saying he was once again threatening a national default by drawing a line in the sand on the debt ceiling.

“We all know this is coming,” Boehner said, “and it struck me as somewhat comical here over the last couple of days that people are looking at me like I’m the guy carrying a sword around town and I’m going to bludgeon someone. All I’m suggesting is it’s time for us to talk about this.”

The Speaker acknowledged that the tax provisions, spending cuts and debt limit were “related” issues. “It would be nice to do them in some logical order and with enough time for members and the American people to understand exactly what it is we’re doing.”

But he warned, “To think that we’re going to do all of this between Election Day and New Year’s is a big stretch.”

Any agreement in the midst of the presidential campaign is unlikely.

Asked if he had hope that the contours of the deficit “grand bargain” he'd discussed last summer with President Obama could be revived, Boehner smiled and replied, “I live for hope.”