Thu Oct 10, 2013 at 10:47 AM PDT
“The president is happy that at least cooler heads seem to be prevailing in House,” Carney told reporters at a daily press conference.
“The president strongly prefers a longer term solution,” Carney added. “We’ll see what the House Republicans propose and see what they are able to pass.”
Carney’s second point is a good one: Despite holding a press conference, House Republicans were exceedingly vague about the details of what they are demanding in exchange for raising the debt limit—and we still don’t know whether they can even manage to pass whatever it is that they eventually propose.
If Republicans were to propose a clean debt ceiling increase, Carney said President Obama would “likely” sign it, even though he would prefer a longer term extension.
If a clean debt limit bill is passed, he would likely sign it. Again, we would have to see it. We’re speaking about a bill that does not at this point exist and it’s not at all clear based on what the Speaker said that that’s what we’re going to see.
As Carney again noted, Republicans have yet to offer concrete details of what they are proposing. According to a report from National Journal, Republicans aren’t actually going to demand anything in the bill…
There will be no specific language attached to the bill mandating any negotiating framework from the White House. “It’s just a handshake,” said Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana.
…but until we see language that Republicans are actually able to pass through the House, reports like that are just speculation. But if they agree to take the threat of default off the table, the White House won’t stand in their way.
10:54 AM PT: One thing worth paying attention to is whether the House includes language barring the Treasury Department from using extraordinary measures to avoid default. If they do that (and indications are that they plan to), it would probably kill their plan, because barring Treasury from avoiding a default would actually further weaponize the debt limit. It also is an extremely hard position to defend (it’s sort of like banning firefighters from fighting fires) so it would be sort of nuts for House Republicans to insist on it. Then again, they are sort of nuts.
If they don’t include language barring extraordinary measures, then a six-week debt limit suspension would probably last much longer than six weeks. The last time Congress raised the debt limit was in February when they suspended it for about three months, through mid-May. But thanks to extraordinary measures, we’ve avoided default for nearly five months.