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House GOP may seek short-term debt limit extension

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 17, 2013 at 5:40 pm •  Published: January 17, 2013

At his news conference Thursday, Ryan sidestepped when asked which would inflict the most harm on the economy — implementation of across-the-board cuts, a partial government shutdown or a default.

"The worst thing for the economy is for this Congress and this administration to do nothing to get our debt and deficits under control," said the party's 2012 vice presidential candidate, back in Congress now as House Budget Committee chairman. "We think the worst thing for the economy is to move past these events that are occurring without any progress."

Passage of a shorter-term increase in the debt limit would essentially shuffle the order of the looming deadlines. Rather than flirt with a first-ever default to get their way on spending cuts — a strategy unlikely to win favor on Wall Street — Republicans might threaten a partial government shutdown or allow across-the-board cuts to remain in effect.

Neither is without potential political fallout.

In particular, Republicans paid a heavy political price for a pair of government shutdowns in the 1990s. Yet the economic impact of a brief interruption in some federal services appears far less daunting than the risk of an unprecedented default that could destabilize financial markets at a time the economy is remains short of full strength after the worst recession in decades.

One Republican, Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana, told reporters there had been several proposals in the private discussions to advance the Republican goal of cutting spending while renewing the government's borrowing authority.

Among them is a requirement for approval of a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, a condition the Democratic-controlled Senate would almost certainly reject, or perhaps a watered-down requirement for a mere vote on an amendment.