Politics

October 10, 2013

Republicans consider short-term increase in debt limit

They would still prefer to end or delay Obamacare in exchange for acting, but with polls showing their favorability ratings dropping, they may soften their demands.

By Alan Fram
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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As the federal government shutdown continues, Tory Anderson, right, with her kids Audrey, 7, and Kai, 3, of Goodyear, Ariz., join others as they rally for the Alliance of Retired Americans to end the shutdown in front of the Social Security Administration offices on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in Phoenix. Other groups rallying to end the government shutdown include Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, the American Federation of Government Employees AFL-CIO, and Arizona FairShare.

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

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Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas talks with reporters following a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013. President Barack Obama is making plans to talk with Republican lawmakers at the White House in the coming days as pressure builds on both sides to resolve their deadlock over the federal debt limit and the partial government shutdown.

AP Photo

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Instead, the House passed legislation that the Obama administration already had rendered unnecessary — on providing death benefits to families of military forces who die — while Boehner and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi met face-to-face — and promptly disagreed even about which side had requested the get-together.

“Enough is enough,” said Barry Black, the Senate chaplain who has delivered a series of pointed sermonettes in recent days as lawmakers careen from crisis to crisis.

Evidently not.

With Lew on tap to testify before lawmakers on Thursday, officials said he was expected to reiterate that Congress needed to raise the government’s borrowing limit by Oct. 17 to be sure of preventing default.

Despite warnings from leaders of both political parties that a financial default could plunge the economy into recession, cause interest rates to rise and home values to plummet, one Republican lawmaker, Rep. Mo Brooks of Ala., said a default wouldn’t be the worst calamity to befall the country.

“Insolvency and bankruptcy” would be worse, he said, warning that that would be the result of yet another increase in the debt limit without attaching measures to bring down the federal budget deficit.

The nation’s largest manager of money market mutual funds was taking no chances. It said it had been selling off government debt holdings over the past couple of weeks and no longer held any that would come due around the time the nation could hit its borrowing limit. Fidelity Investments expects Congress to take the necessary steps to avoid default, but “we have to take precautionary measures,” said Nancy Prior, president of Fidelity’s Money Market Group

The partial shutdown ground on, although an Associated Press-GfK poll suggested the impact was anything but uniform. Only 17 percent of those polled said they or their households had experienced any impact, while 81 percent said they had not.

Who’s fault? Some 62 percent said Republicans were mostly or entirely to blame for the partial shutdown, which began on Oct. 1, while 49 percent said as much for President Barack Obama.

There was widespread agreement on one point. The country is widely dissatisfied with elected lawmakers.

A new Gallup poll put approval for Congress at 11 percent, a mere one in every nine adults. The AP-GfK survey made it 5 percent approval — and only 3 percent among independents, whose votes are the main prize in next fall’s midterm elections. Nationally, a whopping 83 percent of adults disapprove of Congress’ actions.

Inside the Capitol, neither private meetings nor public votes offered any hint of progress toward ending the latest gridlock.

Republicans are seeking negotiations on budget, health care and other issues as the price for reopening the government and raising the debt limit. Obama and Democrats say no talks unless legislation is first passed.

The House voted 252-172 to reopen the Federal Aviation Administration. Democrats generally opposed the measure and the White House issued a veto threat, saying the government should be reopened all at once, not on a piecemeal basis.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., left, stands on the Senate steps on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, during a news conference on the ongoing budget battle. President Barack Obama was making plans to talk with Republican lawmakers at the White House in the coming days as pressure builds on both sides to resolve their deadlock over the federal debt limit and the partial government shutdown. From left are, Reid, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

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