Mardell: Republicans remove blindfold

House Speaker John Boehner walks to a house vote on border safety and security on Capitol Hill in Washington 10 October 2013 John Boehner managed to sound tough while backing down

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The White House is determined not to look too enthusiastic about the Republican offer to avert a debt crisis.

My guess is in the end that the president will have to accept it - but he'll play hard ball and make it clear he's got his way.

The president's spokesman, Jay Carney, says that Mr Obama is happy cooler heads seem to have prevailed and there is a recognition that default is not an option.

But the White House is still using very tough language saying the American people should not be punished so the Republicans can save face.

He says the president would probably sign a no-strings-attached, short-term deal to lift the debt ceiling.

But he suggested he wouldn't "pay ransom" for that deal.

In other words there's unlikely to be a formal promise to negotiate. There may be an informal agreement, but this is of course all part of the negotiations.

Earlier this morning, one Democratic senator compared this crisis to a blindfolded man walking towards the edge of the cliff.

The Republican leadership has taken the blindfold off and taken a sudden leap backwards.

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner sounded tough, even as he backed down.

"What we want to do is to offer the president today the ability to move a temporary increase in the debt ceiling, an agreement to go to conference on the budget for his willingness to sit down and discuss with us a way forward to reopen the government and to start to deal with America's pressing problems."

Notice there's no mention of the original demand that "Obamacare" must be delayed or otherwise damaged.

But the offer still leaves the government shutdown.

The White House will want to see the formal wording of any bill before it bites and that won't be the end of it.

First, intelligence from up on the Hill suggests that getting enough Republican votes could be hard, although influential conservative blogs are not being too critical.

However, there probably will be a backlash from some supporters who will feel betrayed.

How loudly they shout now could change the calculations.

And even if the initial deal is done it will mean at least six weeks of jittery uncertainty hanging over the American economy - at the end of which we could be back where we started.

The White House describes that as "spite" - towards the American people.

Still a deal to avert what some describe as a catastrophe next week is now possible, even likely.

But wrestling on the edge of a cliff is an unpredictable business.

Mark Mardell, North America editor Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 349.

    @339.rootsman time take it easy

    “(it's USA that's breaching laws and rights droning and spying (and UK)
    not just Obama NSA and GCHQ)”

    That’s a dumb thing to say. No laws are being broken by either.

  • rate this

    Comment number 348.

    346.All for All - - To clarify: US-style Democracy vs. UK-style (Parliamentary) Democracy - - Beyond that, you're on your own . . .

    Every person has a right to have an a**hole - and be an as*h**e . . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 347.

    ref #307

    the prinicpeled opposition to Obama care is that it will raise cost and drive business to layooff workers. The latter has already started.

    What Obam asupporter refuse to understand the goverment is poor and running business like ventures.Especially when in the case of Obama he really has no understanding or regard for the private sector

  • rate this

    Comment number 346.

    bespokesman @345
    "I apologize"?

    We think alike, in that one respect it seems

    Good luck with 'the words', and the order!

    You believe "reasonable" US checks & balances. Would you allow others a say? An informed say? Informed of WHAT?

  • rate this

    Comment number 345.

    343.All for All - - I apologize - - When I responded I thought I was dealing with a rational human being . . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 344.

    I stand by my statement that
    Americans cannot call USA the Land of the Free if we get penalized and punished for not having health insurance

    In USA you have to pay taxes on wages and for owning a home
    but this whole health care punishment thing by Democrats is the opposite of everything democracy stands for

    Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for passing Obamacare

  • rate this

    Comment number 343.

    "no such thing"
    As the future?
    Or democracy?

    "US-style democracy", you will realise, is an oxymoron; the 'democracy' a word of decorative value to some in the electorate, a tool of the trade for politicians, for use of course 'with care'

    You may also have noticed, no democracy, no real fruits in the fruit machine: life & relationships devalued, people & planet in peril. No choice?

  • Comment number 342.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 341.

    Sieu: manufacturing products for Americans in America using American workers

    Not to mention processing American chicken in America again

    Right now much of our American chicken is being shipped to China, processed with Chinese chemicals+ supporting Chinese jobs,
    then shipped back to USA without inspection

    Why not process American chicken for Americans in America?

  • Comment number 340.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 339.

    It isn't Obama that is going into debt default it is USA
    Republicans / GOP don't understand that Obama is USA

    (it's USA that's breaching laws and rights droning and spying (and UK)
    not just Obama NSA and GCHQ)

  • rate this

    Comment number 338.

    237 Scott0962 Where does the Constitution, Roberts’ Rules or House & Senate rules say it must be “bipartisan?” Would you claim this if the shoe were on the other foot? I think not.
    257 margaret howard Be careful what you wish for, if the gods are moody you just might get it.
    265. Or a bit tae muckle o usquebaugh the now
    281Scott0962 Except fundamentalists Republicans who want theocracy.

  • Comment number 337.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 336.

    @332. You live in a strange world. The USA with a GDP over $15bn represents 25% of world GDP. The US$ remains the only effective reserve currency. China invests heavily in the USA and owns 8% of their national debt. That's a vote of confidence. The USA matters enormously to the world economy and to dismiss it in a few lines isn't coherent. A world without the USA wouldn't adjust easily.

  • rate this

    Comment number 335.

    311.All for All - - In addition to idiot-proof, there's no such thing as a fear-proof; greed-proof or corruption-proof democracy. Because governments are created and administered by people, they have all of the short-comings of their constituencies and their leaders; including all of the above. With its checks & balances US-style democracy does a reasonable job of minimizing those short-comings.

  • rate this

    Comment number 334.

    Can america live without credit
    Normal people are not rich when they got debt
    It's Different for Governments like USA
    Borrowing, Printing and Inflating Debt is levers to pull

    331 typo* s/b
    ".. don't pay they will BURN* your inventory.."

  • rate this

    Comment number 333.

    @323. Defaulting is indeed an option as you say but there exists a severe downside. Nations, corporations & people who do so thereafter can't borrow in anything other than hard currency. Witness Argentina since the 1990's. The reality is that when you suffer serious indebtedness there is no 'easy way' out and neither should there be. Why trust anyone who can't pay their debts?

  • rate this

    Comment number 332.

    321 rootsman

    "America being rich or poor doesn't stop world"

    Whatever America does is of only temporary importance to the developed world. We have existed for thousands of years without it and would soon adjust as we have done countless of times before when empires rose and fell

    The nouveau riche always give themselves too many airs and graces. In the end they don't matter much.

  • rate this

    Comment number 331.

    328 Governments and Citizens might be true Red White and Blue but it's Corporations are Green and can up and leave go where wages are lowest.
    Factories and technology are foreign and if you don't pay they will your inventory stock

  • Comment number 330.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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