- The Washington Times - Friday, November 19, 2010

A leader of President Obama’s bipartisan deficit-reduction commission on Friday predicted that there will be a “bloodbath” on Capitol Hill next year when lawmakers consider increasing the nation’s debt ceiling, which could force both parties to take their recommendations seriously.

With the federal debt hovering around $13.7 trillion and the debt limit at $14.3 trillion, Congress is expected to increase the country’s credit line next spring. But with Sen-elect Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and others leading the charge against an increase, the proposal’s success could hinge on leaders trading promises of future cuts in exchange for votes.

“When debt limit times comes, they are going to look around and say, ‘What in the hell do we do now? We’ve got guys who will not approve the debt-limit extension unless we give them a piece of meat,’ ” Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator and co-chairman of the president’s commission, told reporters gathered for a breakfast discussion hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “The bloodbath will be extraordinary.”

Earlier this year, the Democrat-led Congress raised the debit limit to $14.3 trillion, a $1.9 trillion increase that allowed the government to borrow the additional money to keep the government going into next year. The vote provided Republicans with ammunition on the campaign trail, where they attacked the decision as an example of Democrats’ wild spending habits.

But now incoming House Speaker John Boehner is telling some of the same newly elected Republicans that they need to raise the debt limit again next year.

“This is going to be beautiful politics, the brutal kind,” Mr. Simpson said. “The debt limit, when it comes in April or May, will prove who is a hero and who is a jerk and who is a charlatan.”

Mr. Simpson’s comments came a week after he and fellow co-chairman Erskine Bowles, White House chief of staff in the Clinton administration, floated a draft deficit and debt-reduction proposal that relies on a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases to get the country’s financial house in order, erasing $4 trillion from the project deficits through 2020.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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