Boxer’s bill aims to take debt limit off table

 

McClatchy Washington Bureau

After the country flirted with an unprecedented default on its obligations this week for the second time in three years, Sen. Barbara Boxer is pushing a proposal to eliminate the debt limit as a bargaining chip.

A bill by Boxer, a California Democrat, would allow the president to request a debt limit increase, and only a veto-proof majority in both houses of Congress could stop it. The measure would allow members of Congress to voice their disapproval and tell their constituents they voted against increasing the debt limit.

Boxer’s bill hasn’t attracted any co-sponsors yet. The White House says the authority to raise the debt limit rests with Congress. But the public is running out of patience. Congress is about as unpopular as it’s ever been. Business and world leaders worry that the fiscal fights could send the U.S. and global economies into a tailspin.

In an interview, Boxer said her bill is a solution.

“It is the obvious way out,” she said. “America is so bruised by this.”

Boxer’s bill, the USA AAA Credit Restoration Act, is actually based on a Republican idea: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed it as part of the 2011 Budget Control Act. The Kentucky Republican, usually one of President Barack Obama’s most outspoken critics, helped broker a compromise this week to end a 16-day government shutdown and raise the debt limit.

But the deal only extends the U.S. Treasury’s borrowing authority through early February, and just the possibility that the country could near default again risks U.S. creditworthiness.

“If anyone thinks this brinksmanship is helping the nation, just look at the ratings agencies,” Boxer said.

Fitch Ratings on Tuesday put the U.S. on “rating watch negative,” a step toward a credit downgrade. The disarray in Congress “dents confidence in the effectiveness of the U.S. government and political institutions, and in the coherence and credibility of economic policy,” Fitch wrote.

Standard & Poor’s took away the country’s coveted Triple-A rating during the last debt-limit crisis.

In 2011, the most conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives, emboldened by midterm election gains, refused to increase the debt limit unless they got major spending cuts. They prevailed, and Congress approved the Budget Control Act at the last minute before a default.

This time, the debt-limit deadline coincided with the government running out of funds to operate, with House Republicans demanding changes to Obama’s health care law, his signature achievement. Though they didn’t get what they sought, another budget crisis could occur in a few months.

“Some in Congress want to use the debt ceiling to extract ideological wishes,” Boxer said. “The budget process is the way to handle your whole wish list.”

G. William Hoagland, a senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center who participated in several budget deals in the 1980s and 1990s as a Republican Senate aide, said he’d prefer that Congress repeal the debt-limit law.

But since that isn’t likely, he said, Boxer’s plan could work.

“I think that makes good sense,” Hoagland said. “It’s a good way to get it out of the debate.”

Boxer said her bill creates a more predictable and expedited process for increasing the debt limit.

“I think it’s fair to all branches,” she said. “I would hope that it would be embraced.”

Email: ctate@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @tatecurtis

Read more Politics Wires stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
FILE - In this Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, file photo, Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the Republican National Committee summer meetings in Chicago. Court documents released Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, show  that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's recall election campaign team told him to instruct donors to give to Wisconsin Club for Growth, which would run ads for Walker and distribute money to other conservative groups backing him. The emails were part of some 1,300 pages released by a federal appeals court from a secret investigation into whether Walker's recall campaign illegally coordinated with conservative groups.

    Emails show Walker recall election campaign push

    Newly released court documents include excerpts from emails showing that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's recall election campaign team told him to instruct donors to give to a key conservative group that would run ads for Walker and distribute money to other conservative groups backing him.

  • Biden: US would help Iraq pursue federal system

    Vice President Joe Biden says the U.S. is prepared to help Iraq pursue a federal system that would decentralize power away from Baghdad.

  •  
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig answers questions at a news conference, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, prior to a baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Atlanta Braves in Cincinnati. Cincinnati hosts the All-Star game in 2015.

    Selig hasn't changed outlook about Rose

    As his term winds down, baseball Commissioner Bud Selig hasn't changed his outlook on Pete Rose's lifetime ban for gambling.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category