Boehner throws down the debt limit gauntlet

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on CBS' "Face the Nation." CBS

This week's guest is House Speaker John Boehner.

On Monday, Boehner threw down the debt ceiling gauntlet: "Let me be as clear as I can be. Without significant spending cuts and reforms to reduce our debt, there will be no debt limit increase. And the cuts should be greater than the accompanying increase in debt authority the president is given."

Just to make sure everyone understood what he just said, he told the Economic Club of New York, "We should be talking about cuts of trillions, not just billions." The Speaker also said that tax increases to accomplish that goal were a non-starter.

Boehner's comments sent Washington into a tizzy. The big question: How can Washington reach a trillion-dollar deal in a matter of months? Can something get done? Technically, the federal government hits the debt ceiling, of $14.3 trillion, next Monday, but Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told Congress he's taking emergency measures to push that date back to August 2. So now, Congress and the White House have two and a half months to reach what would be the largest debt reduction package in history.

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John Boehner accuses Democrats of "hysteria"

Speaking to reporters in Washington on Thursday, Boehner said he caught the White House off guard with his position. "Clearly, we struck a nerve, and the response from the White House and from Democrats and the left has been panic and hysteria," he said. "The American people have overwhelmingly rejected the idea of giving the President a blank check to increase the debt limit, and Republicans are listening to the American people."

Boehner interview for FTN
CBS
Part of the White House response this week came in a special CBS News Town Hall on the economy with President Obama. At the town hall, the President responded to a question about the Republican opposition to any tax increases.

"Well, I-- I think what we're going to end up having to do probably-- is to set some targets, and say-- you know, those targets have to be hit if not automatically, some cuts and tax increases start taking place. And that will give incentive for us to negotiate-- and figure something out," he said.

We'll hear more of President Obama's response to Boehner's comments, and Boehner's response to the President, as House Speaker John Boehner Faces the Nation this Sunday.

  • Robert Hendin On Twitter»

    Robert Hendin is senior producer for "Face the Nation" and a CBS News senior political producer.

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