Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) ended his weekly news conference with:
If the House and Senate can’t reach agreement on — on the CR by March 4th, would you be willing to entertain a short-term CR at current levels?
We’re going to do everything that we can to cut spending. We’re hopeful that the Senate will take up the House-passed bill that comes out of here today, tonight, tomorrow morning, whenever it is. But we hope that they will move it.
But our goal here is to cut spending. But I am not going to move any kind of short-term CR at current levels. When we — when we say we’re going to cut spending, read my lips. We’re going to cut spending.
I’m surprised he used “read my lips,” because that’s what President George H.W. Bush said to the Republican National Convention two years before cutting a deal to go back on his pledge not to raise taxes.
Boehner saw at first hand how the Republicans suffered following the 1995/1996 government shutdowns, and I expect him to avoid a repeat if he can. However, he’s got 87 freshman Republicans who are clamoring for massive federal spending cuts. Whether he can bridge that gap is unclear. I read his remarks as asking President Obama for a meeting to explore some spending cut agreement that would look like a victory to his Republicans, but which wouldn’t be too drastic for most Democrats to swallow. I don’t expect a grand budget deal for long-term deficit reduction. I’m looking for $30 b. of cuts this year that will keep the government from being shut down. If there’s no deal, I expect a series of short-term CRs and debt limit increases.