WASHINGTON — The White House has long accused Republicans in the House of Representatives of flirting with disaster by risking a credit default — but ruining Christmas?
That's the administration's latest spin: that House Speaker John Boehner's bid to raise the debt ceiling only briefly would force another "debt ceiling three-ring circus" just in time for the holiday season.
That Grinch! Another round of warring politicians would not only dampen enthusiasm for decking the halls, but it could depress the economy, the White House warned Thursday.
"Happy Holidays America," White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer tweeted Thursday, presumably embracing not only Christmas but Chanukah, Kwanza and perhaps New Years, too. "(The) Boehner plan would have the debt ceiling all over again during the holiday season, which is critical for the economy."
The White House wants a hike in borrowing authority large enough to take the U.S. into 2013, past the November 2012 election, though it says it's not about politics, it's about giving the economy an assured break from the debt-ceiling madness for that period.
White House senior adviser David Plouffe piled on the Christmas threat during a conference call with reporters, saying that without a long-term deal, the contentious debate could be revived "probably right around the holiday season, which is one of the most important times for our economy. That would be irresponsible and reckless."
Boehner's office accused the White House of singing the wrong carol. It maintains that under the GOP plan, the debt limit would increase by $900 billion initially — enough to cover the federal government's needs into January or February. (Next White House message: GOP hates Cupid?)
In a blog post archly titled, "Yes, David There will be a Christmas," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck charged that the White House "has resorted to suggesting (the House plan) would force Americans to keep the tinsel and snow globes boxed up this holiday season."
But he said the spending would be extended "well into next year. White House advisers can rest easy, and no one has to put their holiday plans on hold," Buck wrote.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney wouldn't give it up. He pressed the case, warning that a short-term fix could result in a replay of the past few weeks "at a time when people don't want to worry about whether or not their interest rates are going to go up ... especially as they're buying gifts for the holidays."
The White House hasn't always frowned on Yule-time lawmaking: President Barack Obama's prized health care overhaul bill passed the Senate on Christmas Eve in 2009.
MORE FROM MCCLATCHY