Is there another fight coming in January on the debt ceiling?

David LightmanTribune News Service

Another fight coming on the debt ceiling?

Could be. The deadline is February 7. Republicans have suggested they don't want to simply raise the limit, but Democrats contend they aren't about to attach strings.

The debate on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday was one that will probably be echoed often when Congress returns next month.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., looked at the two year budget deal Congress enacted before leaving last week and was not satisfied.

"We're in trouble on deficits and debts is not because we didn't agree but because we did. We agreed to spend $740 billion we didn't have last year," he said. The deal permits spending above the automatic spending cut levels, or sequester, agreed to in 2011.

"So the story coming out of Washington is we don't get along -- I would disagree with that," Coburn said. "We get along just fine with a status quo of the government being ineffective and inefficient.

"So we pass a bill that raises spending and raises taxes and denies what we promised the American people, and everybody says, oh, my goodness, how great; you grew the government some more and you charged us more taxes and you didn't fix any of the problems."

The debt ceiling was not part of the budget deal. And Senate Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Charles Schumer of New York thought Republicans would not push to delay a change in the limit.

"I would predict that Republicans will back off any hostage-taking, adding extraneous, irrelevant issues to the debt ceiling," Schumer said.

"They learned in October that if they followed the tea party and said, we're going to let the government default unless we get our way -- it was highly unpopular," he maintained. Disagreement over the debt ceiling was a big reason for the 16-day partial government shutdown.

" I understand there's some saber- rattling right now by Speaker Boehner and...Minority Leader McConnell. And that's natural. They cut a good deal, I thought, on the budget, and they had to show the hard right that they're going to do something else.   

"But at the end of the day, the president's going to hold firm. No negotiations on debt ceiling."

David Lightman
McClatchy Washington Bureau