Sunday show wrap: Boehner says the debt ceiling must increase

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he’s “ready to cut a deal today” to raise the debt ceiling.

“I think it is necessary, but I understand the doubts,” Boehner said on “Face the Nation.” “They’ve pushed the date back, pushed the date back, pushed the date back. But it’s clear to me that at some point we’re going to have to raise the debt ceiling.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he wouldn’t vote to increase the debt limit unless deficit reductions are made. Boehner has made similar demands.

“To get my vote, we need to get something significant in the short-term, medium-term and long-term,” McConnell said on “State of the Union.”

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) reiterated that sentiment and said that for every dollar that the debt ceiling is increased Republicans expect to  see a dollar reduction in spending.

But Ryan admitted that Republicans are equally to blame for the deficit.

“Both parties messed this up. This is not a Republican-created problem or a Democrat-created problem,” he said on “State of the Union.” “We’ve got to face up to that if we’re going to get this situation under control.”

South Carolina GOP Gov. Nikki Haley said on “This Week” that she would “absolutely not” vote to raise the debt ceiling if she were in Congress — a remark that made former Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman roll his eyes.

Federal Deposit Insurance Commission Chairwoman Sheila Bair said the prospect of a possible federal government default “truly frightens” her and that it would cause the United States to lose its AAA credit rating.

Former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin said on “This Week” that raising the debt ceiling without cutting spending was “politically impossible” because of its unpopularity with voters. Numerous polls in recent weeks have shown a majority of voters opposed to raising the limit.

Boehner addressed the political unpopularity of raising the debt ceiling by saying: “I’ve said to the President: Let’s lock arms and jump out of the boat together. I’m serious about this, and I hope he is just as serious.”

The GOP leaders criticized President Obama and Senate Democrats for not releasing “realistic” budget plans and said raising taxes cannot be a part of any plan.

“Medicare, Medicaid — everything should be on the table, except raising taxes,” Boehner said.

Newt Gingrich seeks forgiveness; Huckabee praises GOP field

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) acknowledged Sunday that he faces a serious challenge in wooing socially conservative voters as he seeks the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. 

Gingrich, who engaged in affairs and has been thrice married, faced questions about his personal history after former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), a favorite of social conservatives, announced that he would not seek the GOP nomination. 

“I have made mistakes in my life,” Gingrich said on “Meet the Press.”

The votes of many social conservatives will be up for grabs now that Huckabee has declined to take the plunge — a factor that may weigh especially heavily in Iowa and South Carolina, two crucial early states in the primary process.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Huckabee listed former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Gingrich as some who could fill his niche in the GOP field. 

Huckabee also had kind words for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and business mogul Donald Trump, calling them both “better than Obama ... on any day.” 

South Carolina GOP Gov. Nikki Haley said she would not consider resigning to become a GOP vice presidential candidate in 2012.

No Afghanistan exit yet, Boehner insists

The killing of Osama bin Laden should not be a catalyst for a rapid U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) argued on “Face the Nation.”

“It wasn’t just bin Laden,” Boehner said, referring to the threats the United States faces in the region. “I’m glad that we got him [but] it was bin Laden and al Qaeda.”

Boehner asserted the United States should stay because its prime objective in Afghanistan is “to make sure that we aren’t ceding ground to the Taliban, al Qaeda or others.”

On Pakistan, Boehner said it was important for U.S. leaders to ensure that it did not have “a foot in some other camp.”

But he also appeared cautious about any suggestion that ties should be loosened.

He referred to the country as “an important ally” and said that it was important to work on strengthening the relationship — “not walk away from it.”

With Mideast in flux, McConnell slams Syria

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) lambasted Syria as a “thug regime” on “State of the Union.” His fellow guests, former intelligence directors Adm. Dennis Blair (Ret.) and Amb. John Negroponte, agreed.

But Negroponte said the United States is unlikely to get involved in Syria to the same extent as it had engaged with events in Egypt and Libya.

“It’s about bandwidth,” Negroponte said. “How many can you handle at the same time?”

As turmoil continues across the region, McConnell suggested it is likely to be some time before the picture becomes clear.

“This is a period of great unrest and we’re not going to make progress there anytime soon,” McConnell said.

“Repressive regimes will not last … they’re just bottling up oppression that cannot last,” Blair said.