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Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 29 2012 1:17 PM

Boehner: There'll Be "A Price" for a New Debt Limit Increase

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WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 28: U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol November 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. During the press conference, Boehner said Republicans are committed to continuing to work with the president to come to an agreement to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

John Boehner's weekly briefing was the first sustained statement in days about the GOP's "fiscal cliff" positioning. Boehner tried very hard to stand still. "Despite the claims that the president supports a balanced approach," he said, "the Democrats have yet to get serious about real spending cuts. No substantive progress has been made in the last two weeks."

Not unexpected. But TPM's Brian Beutler used the forum to ask a good question: Will the debt limit be part of an omnibus cliff deal?

"As I told the president a couple of weeks ago," said Boehner, "there's a lot of things I've wanted in my life, but almost all of them had a price tag attached to them." What did that mean? "I believe that any increase debt limit has to be accompanied by spending reductions that meet or exceed it."

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As luck had it, the Democrats' Senate leadership held a press avail 20 minutes after Boehner ended. PRI's Todd Zwillich asked Harry Reid a different version of the question: Did Democrats have the votes to pass a "clean" debt limit increase?

"At the meeting we had among us a couple of weeks ago," said Reid, "four leaders present, [the president] said: No matter what numbers come out, no matter what arrangement we come up with, there will be an agreement on the debt limit." The reason: "Why in the world would we agree to something for a month or two, and then come back and have them try to shut down the government?"

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.