Schumer: GOP Bluffing on Debt Limit

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) thinks Republicans who are talking about letting the debt limit expire next year are bluffing.

On Wednesday, Schumer snarled, "I think they learned their lesson with the debt ceiling, I don’t think it’s leverage for them at all," citing in 2011 when the Republicans threatened to shut down the government rather than raise the debt ceiling. 

The Republicans ultimately caved on the issue but got almost $1 trillion in discretionary spending cuts.

Schumer said that the 2011 battle hurt Republicans with the public:

The whole thing turned around when it looked like they’d be willing to let the United States forgo its payment of debt in 2011. The whole thing turned around and we began to get the upper hand. I think they’ve learned that mistake and any talk that that is leverage for them is false.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) parroted Schumer:

They've tried it before: “We're going to shut down the government and we're not going to raise the debt ceiling.” They want to go through that again, fine. But we're not — we're not going to be held subject to something that was done as a matter of fact in all previous administrations.

Schumer also repeated the Democrats’ insistence that tax rates on the highest earners were a given, asserting, “We ran an election on that issue, we campaigned on it and the American people are for it. So the logic here is very, very simple. Speaker [John] Boehner should go to the top rate.” 

He also stated that the Obama Administration would never accept anything less than a return to the Clinton-Era tax on the wealthy, which was 39.6%, dismissing any proposals to increase the rate from its current 35% to 37% or 38%:

I think we have to go to 39.6. The reason many of our Republican colleagues are unwilling to document where they would have the tax expenditure savings is once you don’t go to the 39.6, it’s very hard for them to get the kind of revenues needed.”

Lastly, Schumer said there was no wiggle room on Obama’s proposal to include $1.6 trillion or more in higher tax revenues. He said, “I think it’s very hard to get the large deal, the $4 trillion deal, without $1.6 trillion in revenues.”

Conservative House Republicans defiantly insisted they’re not bluffing. Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) asserted that a majority of House Republicans agree with him that the debt limit has to be addressed now:

I don’t think the American people are saying the debt is not a problem. Either we do it now and get ahead of it or we face it in a panic three or four years from now. This is face it now or face it later.

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