WASHINGTON —The capital braced Tuesday for a replay of last summer's tense battle over the burgeoning national debt as House Speaker John Boehner threatened again to block an increase in the federal debt ceiling without significant new cuts in spending.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and other senior Democrats quickly blasted the Ohio Republican, arguing that his ultimatum could put the nation's credit rating — and the broader economy — at risk early next year, when the debt is expected to hit its $16.4 trillion limit.
Others noted that Boehner's call for fresh spending cuts comes as many Republicans are trying to roll back cuts adopted to satisfy GOP demands last summer, arguing that they fall too heavily on defense.
The dust-up followed the release early Tuesday of prepared remarks that Boehner later delivered at a summit staged by longtime deficit hawk Peter Peterson to encourage policymakers to take action to tame the debt. Participants, including senior lawmakers from both parties, agreed that that is unlikely to happen before the Nov. 6 election.
In January, policymakers face the first round of harsh, across-the-board spending cuts adopted last summer, as well as the expiration of a host of tax cuts that benefit every American household.