Many House Republicans, including some key leaders, have decided they can live with a government shutdown but not with the threat of default. In the hours ahead, look for the GOP to seek a deal with President Obama and Democrats on at least a short-term increase in the debt limit, while standing firm on their requirement that a continuing resolution to fund the government must contain some significant measure to limit Obamacare. The bottom line: Republicans have discovered the world did not end when shutdown became a reality -- but they're not willing to risk it with the debt ceiling.
House Speaker John Boehner discussed the strategy in some detail during a meeting Wednesday with GOP freshmen. He explained that "the shutdown is just much less painful than the debt limit if the markets start rattling," according to a lawmaker who was there. "He basically told us that he's not going to allow us to breach that date."
"Boehner said he thinks that punting on the debt limit for a little while will bolster our message that we're willing to meet the president halfway," the House Republican continued. "We feel that the most potent attacks against us are for playing with the debt limit, and so by putting that off, we can see the continuing resolution fight through and then we can turn to the debt limit."
At the meeting, Boehner pointed to the events of September 2008, when the economy was in free-fall and lawmakers first considered TARP, to illustrate the risk of pushing past the debt limit. Back then, the House at first rejected the hastily-conceived TARP proposal, and the Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 700 points. Now, with the House facing a debt limit standoff that could result in default, the Speaker doesn't want a replay of unhappy events. "Boehner said it's too hot," said the House Republican of the debt fight. "He doesn't want to go there."