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Wahlman: Boehner's Way Out

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The consensus is that House Speaker John A. Boehner (R., Ohio) has painted himself into a corner between the Tea Party Republicans and vetoes from President Obama. As a result, he either has to cave and face the wrath of his caucus -- or play hardball with the media against him, as it is dutifully doing Obama's bidding.

However, Boehner has a way out that will get him a significant consolation prize, without risking the media's wrath surrounding even the risk of getting close to a debt default.

But first, let's describe the conventional wisdom around the situation with the government shutdown and the debt limit.

The market has largely concluded that the so-called government shutdown isn't a big deal, even if it could fester if it goes on for a very long time. It's only a relatively small part of the government that's shut down, and if the furloughed bureaucrats are "non-essential" anyway, why were they employed in the first place? Most Americans go to work, walk the sidewalks, and see no damaging effects of the so-called shutdown.

Even refusal to lift the debt limit would not be nearly as bad as the partisan media claim it would be. The government collects $250 billion per month in taxes, and the interest on the debt is $30 billion. In other words, zero risk of a debt default.

That is, zero risk if Obama does the right thing.

But what if Obama were to simply sabotage the debt limit situation and voluntarily cause a default? With the help of the compliant media, Obama would try to pin the blame on the Republicans, and Boehner in particular.

Even without Obama causing a debt default for no logical mathematical reason, he could still make life very painful for the Republicans, given that he's got the media in his pocket. For example, any threat to stop sending out Social Security checks could easily cause the Republicans to cave.

Even for Republicans, if it's Social Security against Obamacare, Social Security wins every day. Boehner knows this.

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