- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2012

House Speaker John A. Boehner vowed Tuesday to draw “a line in the sand” by insisting the next federal debt-limit increase, due later this year, will have to be met with real spending cuts — setting up another showdown like last August’s deficit brinkmanship.

In a broad speech laying out the GOP’s vision for how to grapple with a host of year-end deadlines, from the debt limit to looming automatic defense spending cuts, Mr. Boehner said his party will fight to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, even as it sets the groundwork for a total tax code rewrite in 2013.

And in a harsh assessment of the political situation, he said President Obama squelched the chance for a bigger deal last year, and doesn’t appear to have the backbone to solve the deficit going forward.

“The difference between knowing what’s right and doing what’s right is courage, and the president, I’m sorry to say, lost his,” Mr. Boehner said in a broad speech laying out a vision for tackling the deficit. “He was willing to talk about the tough choices needed to preserve and strengthen our entitlement programs, but he wasn’t ready to take action.”

Asked whether he was drawing lines in the sand Mr. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said he was.

“As long as I’m around here, I believe that line in the sand will be here,” he said.

Democrats said Mr. Boehner’s remarks set the stage for a government-crippling face-off, and said his push for lower spending violates the debt deal reached last August, which ended the last showdown.

“It is pretty galling for Speaker Boehner to be laying down demands for another debt ceiling agreement when he won’t even abide by the last one,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat. “The last thing the country needs is a rerun of last summer’s debacle that nearly brought down our economy.”

Last August’s debt deal gave Mr. Obama the authority to increase the debt ceiling enough to last nearly to the end of this year, but coupled that power with limits to future discretionary spending and automatic across-the-board cuts looming as soon as the end of this year.

But some time around November the ceiling will be reached again, meaning Congress will have to increase the limit again or else the government will immediately have to cut about 40 percent of spending.

Mr. Boehner said he will once again force the White House and Congress to accept cuts and limits equal to any new debt authority.

“We shouldn’t dread the debt limit. We should welcome it. It’s an action-forcing event,” he said.

Mr. Boehner’s call didn’t sit well with some in the tea party who said he tried the same tough talk last year, only to accept a massive debt increase in exchange for tentative future cuts.

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