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The debt ceiling: Boehner's genius

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Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Conservative groups aplenty are aghast that House Speaker John Boehner gave up the fight for spending cuts in return for raising the U.S. debt ceiling.

More than one group called for the Ohio Republican's ouster; one of them issued a hardly veiled threat that it will punish those who don't vote to strip him of his speakership. Another intimated that there must be something mentally wrong with Mr. Boehner, in particular, and the House GOP leadership, in general.

Never mind that Boehner should be considered a genius for the move. Yes, that's right — a genius.

The House on Tuesday passed what's known as a “clean” debt-ceiling increase. It will allow the Obama administration to borrow what it needs for the next 13 months to meet U.S. debt obligations without “offsets.”

“It's the president driving up the debt and the president wanting to do nothing about the debt that's occurring,” Boehner said. “So let his party give him the debt-ceiling increase that he wants.”

Thus, the GOP should be licking its lips: Thanks to spendthrift Democrats, federal debt held by the public will equal about 74 percent of gross domestic product by the time voters head to the midterm polls, notes Doug Elmendorf, head of the Congressional Budget Office. And that ratio is a surefire death knell for long-term economic growth.

Additionally, such a debt load hamstrings policymakers faced with “unexpected challenges,” Mr. Elmendorf says. To wit, investors would demand high interest rates to buy more government debt.

So instead of drawing, quartering and disemboweling John Boehner and feeding his boiled and broiled innards to the rabid, conservatives need to screw their heads back on and take stock of this reality:

Boehner made Mr. Obama and his profligate Democrat acolytes not only fully own their fiscal disaster but, come November, hopefully, choke on it, too.

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