Yesterday, the President conditioned a debt limit increase on the House and Senate meeting his demands to increase taxes, a very risky declaration. The President declared that he would veto any short-term debt limit increase because he wants a comprehensive deal including tax increases.
Ben Feller of the San Francisco Chronicle asked the President if he would sign a short-term debt limit increase:
Thank you very much, Mr. President. Two quick topics. Given that you’re running out of time, can you explain what is your plan for where these talks go if Republicans continue to oppose any tax increases, as they’ve adamantly said that they will? And secondly, on your point about no short-term stopgap measure, if it came down to that and Congress went that route, I know you’re opposed to it, but would you veto it?
The President declared that he would not sign—in other words, he would veto—a short-term debt limit increase:
I will not sign a 30-day or a 60-day or a 90-day extension. That is just not an acceptable approach. And if we think it’s going to be hard—if we think it’s hard now, imagine how these guys are going to be thinking six months from now in the middle of election season where they’re all up. It’s not going to get easier. It’s going to get harder. So we might as well do it now—pull off the Band-Aid; eat our peas. (Laughter.) Now is the time to do it. If not now, when?
The President wants the American people to eat their peas—i.e., tax increases—as part of any bipartisan deal to increase the debt limit.
This is an extraordinary promise to block any short-term debt limit increase. As the President himself stated, the August 2 deadline would signal the date when the Department of Treasury runs out of tools to keep the federal government from defaulting on some obligations. It seems that the President is declaring that if he does not get increased revenues (i.e., increased taxes) he will risk default. What an astonishing declaration from the President.