House Republicans are seriously entertaining dramatic steps, including default or shutting down the government, to force President Barack Obama to finally cut spending by the end of March.
The idea of allowing the country to default by refusing to increase the debt limit is getting more widespread and serious traction among House Republicans than people realize, though GOP leaders think shutting down the government is the much more likely outcome of the spending fights this winter.
â€œI think it is possible that we would shut down the government to make sure President Obama understands that weâ€™re serious,â€ House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state told us. â€œWe always talk about whether or not weâ€™re going to kick the can down the road. I think the mood is that weâ€™ve come to the end of the road.â€
Republican leadership officials, in a series of private meetings and conversations this past week, warned that the White House, much less the broader public, doesnâ€™t understand how hard it will be to talk restive conservatives off the fiscal ledge. To the vast majority of House Republicans, it is far riskier long term to pile up new debt than it is to test the market and economic reaction of default or closing down the government.
GOP officials said more than half of their members are prepared to allow default unless Obama agrees to dramatic cuts he has repeatedly said he opposes. Many more members, including some party leaders, are prepared to shut down the government to make their point. House Speaker John Boehner â€œmay need a shutdown just to get it out of their system,â€ said a top GOP leadership adviser. â€œWe might need to do that for member-management purposes â€” so they have an endgame and can show their constituents theyâ€™re fighting.â€
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