In a political role reversal Friday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) warned that Congress risks severely harming the economy and exacerbating the unemployment crisis if it fails to raise the national debt ceiling in the next four weeks.
"While some think we can go past August 2nd, I frankly think it puts us in an awful lot of jeopardy, and puts our economy in jeopardy, risking even more jobs," Boehner told reporters at his weekly Capitol briefing.
His statement comes as a quiet rebuke to members of his own party who've argued that smacking against the ceiling -- or even defaulting briefly on the debt -- poses no great risk to the economy.
It also raises the question of why Republicans have refused to raise the borrowing limit without extracting major concessions from Democrats on federal spending. Boehner says he and White House negotiators aren't narrowing their differences on a comprehensive debt bill very quickly.
"At the end of the day we've gotta have a bill that we can pass through the House," Boehner said. "In all honesty I don't think things have narrowed -- I don't think this problem has narrowed -- at all in the last several days."