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Opinion: Morning Examiner

Morning Examiner: The debt limit and government shutdown fights are now the same

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Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Monday informing him that the Treasury Department has exhausted available “extraordinary measures” to fund federal government spending without increasing the nation’s current borrowing limit, and that by mid-October, Treasury will not be able to guarantee that all of the federal government’s financial obligations will be met. Such an event “would cause irreparable harm to the American economy,” warned Lew.

The mid-October date identified by Lew is months ahead of whenmany people expected the current debt limit to be breached. The new timing essentially combines the need for Congress to re-authorize government spending for the next fiscal year (the Continuing Resolution that must be signed by Sept. 30) with the need to authorize enough new borrowing to pay for it (the debt limit).

A distinction without a difference
Boehner, and the rest of the House leadership, have been saying for weeks that they would not seek any spending or policy changes while approving new spending authorization. Instead, they promised to force President Obama to agree to new spending cuts and reforms while approving new borrowing authorization. Now that those deadlines are falling on essentially the same days, there is no difference between the strategies. Everything will be on the table as soon as the House gavels back into session Sept. 9.

A menu of options
Obama has repeatedly said he will not negotiate over the debt limit, but has always been open to negotiations over spending levels for the next fiscal year. Combining the two events essentially allows Obama to negotiate on both, while making it seem as though he is keeping his promise not to negotiate on the debt limit.

On the other side, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is reportedly preparing a “menu” of options that could be presented to Obama, each of which would correspond to increasing the debt limit for a certain amount of time.

But whatever menu Ryan makes may not have the full backing of enough House Republicans to make the offer credible. If House Republicans stay divided heading into this spending/debt fight with Obama, they could risk losing big.

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In Other News

The Wall Street Journal, Durable-Goods Orders Drop 7.3 percent: Orders for long-lasting manufactured goods fell sharply in July as demand for aircraft fell and business spending was weak.
The New York Times, Kerry Cites Clear Evidence of Chemical Weapon Use in Syria: Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the use of chemical weapons in attacks on civilians in Syria last week was undeniable and that the Obama administration would hold the Syrian government accountable.
The Washington Post, Snowden stayed at Russian consulate while in Hong Kong: Before American fugitive Edward Snowden arrived in Moscow in June — an arrival that Russian officials have said caught them by surprise — he spent several days living at the Russian Consulate in Hong Kong, a Moscow newspaper reported Monday.
The New York Times, In Obama’s High-Level Appointments, the Scales Still Tip Toward Men: President Obama has named no more women to high-level executive branch posts than the Clinton administration did almost two decades ago.

Lefty Playbook
Think Progress reports on a North Carolina charity threatened with arrest for feeding homeless people.
Talking Points Memo on the Obamacare marketing funding gap.
Jonathan Cohn accuses The Washington Post of reporting on the budget like the Tea Party.

Righty Playbook
Jeffrey Anderson on Lawlessness in the Executive.
Walter Russell Mead on Obama’s Failed Grand Strategy in the Middle East.
Rich Lowry on Obama’s Obama’s disastrous naivete.

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