Mr. Obama made clear – as he did during the 2011 debt-ceiling crisis – that raising the debt ceiling "does not authorize more spending; it simply allows the country to pay for spending that Congress has already committed to." The difference this time around, however, is that while Obama says he's ready to have a "vigorous debate" on debt reduction, he also says that debate must be separate from Congress taking action on the debt ceiling. And if Republicans decide to block such an action, the consequences will be all on them.
The problem, of course, is that Republicans are taking an equally firm stand. House Speaker John Boehner has vowed to raise the debt ceiling – which could hit its limit as early as mid-February – only if he gets dollar-for-dollar spending cuts. Mr. Boehner reiterated this position in a statement released after the president's press conference, which read: “The American people do not support raising the debt ceiling without reducing government spending at the same time. The consequences of failing to increase the debt ceiling are real, but so too are the consequences of allowing our spending problem to go unresolved.”
No one knows how this crisis will unfold, of course, but here's our best guess: Republicans will eventually blink.
In fact, we believe Obama pretty much secured this outcome from the moment he declared that he simply would not negotiate on the matter.
True, it's a potentially risky position to take – since, if Republicans don't back down, the president will either have to go back on his pledge or allow what he himself has described as a catastrophic economic event to take place.