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Boehner: President Is in for ‘Whale of a Fight’ on Debt Limit

Speaker John A. Boehner said Monday that President Barack Obama is in for a “whale of a fight” over the debt limit, with the GOP leader insisting on spending cuts greater than, not just equal to, the amount the debt ceiling is raised.

The Ohio Republican, speaking at a fundraising event for Idaho Republican Mike Simpson, said he has “made it clear that we’re not going to increase the debt limit without cuts and reforms that are greater than the increase in the debt limit,” according to the Idaho Statesman.

“The president doesn’t think this is fair, thinks I’m being difficult to deal with,” Boehner said. “But I’ll say this: It may be unfair, but what I’m trying to do here is to leverage the political process to produce more change than what it would produce if left to its own devices. We’re going to have a whale of a fight.”

On Tuesday, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told CQ Roll Call that the speaker’s comments are “consistent with his long-stated position: Any increase in the debt limit must be accompanied by cuts and reforms greater than the increase.”

When pressed on Boehner’s comment that he would insist on cuts “greater than” the increase in the debt limit, Steel said, “the standard has always been, ‘equal to or greater than,’” signaling that the speaker was, perhaps, just short-handing his so-called Boehner rule — a dictum requiring “cuts and reforms equal to or greater than any increase in the debt ceiling.”

The White House, for its part, was also resolute on the matter Monday.

“Let me reiterate what our position is,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. “And it is unequivocal: We will not negotiate with Republicans in Congress over Congress’ responsibility to pay the bills that Congress has racked up. Period.”

The Treasury Department announced Monday just as markets closed that, in mid-October, it would run out of the “extraordinary measures” that have funded the government since it hit its statutory debt limit in May.

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