Quotes of the Day: Tea Party Members of Congress and the Looming Debt Ceiling Limit Default

Our political Quotes of the Day underscore how GOPers are starting to openly show dismay at what now seems to be a clear desire on the part of some Tea Party members of Congress to hurl the United States into default for economic reasons (their view of how to for the country’s financial house in order their way) and craven political reasons (believing President Barack Obama will be blamed and the GOP will reap huge benefits in 2012).

First, there’s Arizona Senator John McCain, sounding more like the John McCain I enthusiastically voted for in the 2000 California Republican primary:

Mr. McCain mocked Tea Party-allied Republicans in the House for believing — wrongly, he said — that President Obama and Democrats will get the blame for a default if Republicans refuse to increase the nation’s debt ceiling.

By that flawed logic, “Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced budget amendment and reform entitlements and the Tea Party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth,” he said, quoting a Wall Street Journal editorial.

“This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell into G.O.P. nominees,” he jeered, referring to two losing Tea Party candidates for the Senate in 2010.

Mr. McCain assailed the conservative Republicans in the House who are threatening passage of the debt cutting plan by the House speaker, John A. Boehner, calling their political logic “bizarro” and noting sarcastically that they have only been in office a short time.

“Maybe some people who have only been in this body for six or seven months or so really believe that,” he said. “Others know better. Others know better.”

……“It’s time we listened to the markets,” he said. “It’s time we listened to our constituents. But most of all, it’s time we listened to the American people and sit down and seriously negotiate something.”

But, in fact, is default now being seen by Tea Party members as a negotiating tool — or, more accurately, a weapon to be held the country’s head until the White House and Democrats do anything at all to stop the resulting meltdown from a default? Who could suggest that?

Why, House Majority Leader John Boehner, that’s who (he must be a RINO):

Speaking on conservative radio host Laura Ingraham’s show this morning, Boehner agreed that failing to raise the limit before the deadline would be devastating, and said the “chaos” plan won’t work when asked by Ingraham what’s motivating the recalcitrant Republicans:

BOEHNER: Well, first they want more. And my goodness, I want more too. And secondly, a lot of them believe that if we get passed August the second and we have enough chaos, we could force the Senate and the White House to accept a balanced budget amendment. I’m not sure that that — I don’t think that that strategy works. Because I think the closer we get to August the second, frankly, the less leverage we have vis a vis our colleagues in the Senate and the White House.

Take these two together and you can see the shift in the Republican Party. No one within the party seems to have the power or desire to push it even a bit more center. Those who have some power (Boehner and Mitch McConnell) are either on board, enablers or afraid. And those who speak out (McCain) have limited power.

Question: Will many voters and independent voters in particular reward this — even if there is a default on Barack Obama’s watch? If you take some of these statements (and others) together, it’s clear that it is not just the left, progressives, bloggers who are astounded at what the current incarnation of Republican 21st century conservatives are doing. It’s many Republicans.

Two other blogging comments:
Charles Johnson on McCain:

John McCain should really just accept the fact that the Republican Party has bought tickets on the Crazy Train; today he’s castigating the Tea Party for ‘foolish’ demands in the debt ceiling debate, but what’s the point? They’re not listening to people like McCain any more.

John Cole on Boeher’s comments:

They think they can burn the entire system down and out of the ashes will form Conservatopia. They really do think of themselves as the vanguard of the Galtitariat. The folks sitting on the sideline keeping their powder dry, or the folks saying “They’re just negotiating” simply do not get it. We’re dealing with maniacs and true believers…… Economic suicide bombers is a better analogy than most people realize.

UPDATE: Former Bush aide David Frum argues that Boehner’s plan is indeed all smoke and mirrors and that’s what’s good about it to save the GOP. Read it in full but here are a few parts:

Republicans went to war over the debt ceiling in hopes of forcing major spending cuts from the Obama administration.

To wage this fight, they discarded the venerable tradition that debt ceiling votes were symbolic, not real. They accepted the enormous, horrifying risk of forcing a default by the U.S. government. They invested vast hours of time, sacrificing every other legislative priority. (The 2010 health care reform law, for instance, remains on the books, unrepealed, unreplaced, and unreformed.)

And what have Republicans got to show for this gigantic and dangerous effort?

The Boehner plan will yield $1 billion in real savings in Year One. $1 billion! In Washington terms: Nothing. Most of the other $999 billion in promised cuts will be identified over the following nine years, by a panel of legislators to be selected by the leaders of both parties in both houses of Congress. Plus, there will be another debt ceiling vote. Yes, there is a promise of no tax increases. But everybody understands that whether or not any of this comes to pass will depend on elections as yet unpredictable. If Democrats do well in 2012, there will be tax increases when the Bush tax plans expire on December 31 of that year. Likewise, it’s hard to imagine anyone facing the very different fiscal and economic challenges of 2016 feeling very bound by this vote in 2011.

The main real-world impact of the Boehner plan will be to trigger another big vote on the debt ceiling within a year. Which may well make Tea Party Republicans in the House very nervous. They may sense the deep unpopularity of their votes on the record to rescind the Medicare guarantee for people under age 55. They may not want to vote for still more budget cuts all over again in the spring of an election year. They want a big showy triumph over Obama today, forcing the president and the Democrats to join them as co-authors of what would otherwise be election-losing cuts..

So the Tea Party Republicans are quite right to dismiss the Boehner plan as smoke and mirrors, a desperate establishment maneuver to manipulate and deceive.

Yet Tea Party Republicans confront a party establishment unanimously representing the Boehner plan as a huge victory for the Tea Party, a crushing defeat for Obama, and an honest-to-God-for-real plan to shrink government starting now.

AND:

….The fact that the Republican leadership is not honest, however, does not mean that it is not right. The GOP has marched itself into a fatal confrontation — not only with the Obama administration — but with the whole global economy. It has threatened to force an unnecessary U.S. bankruptcy unless it gets its unpopular way.

The leadership condemns Tea Partiers as reckless sectarians. That’s an apt description. But it applies not only to the Tea Party, but to every Republican who joined in this attempt to use the threat of bankruptcy as a tool of politics — the ultra-respectable Wall Street Journal just as much as the ranting talk-radio hosts.

If the GOP wants to end the impasse before the catastrophe, good for them. But much better if they had never started the impasse in the first place. The leaders may not be as heedless and reckless as the Tea Party. But their irresponsibility has done fully as much harm, and may yet do more.

The GOP leadership desperately needs rescue from this untenable situation, and it needs that rescue fast, within the next week. It cannot afford to be over-fussy about the rescue route.

So Republican leaders must pretend that the Boehner plan is a real thing. They must denounce and discipline those Republicans who fail to agree. They must hope that inflicting maximum annoyance on President Obama compensates for making minimal progress on America’s future debt challenges. They must all tell the same damn lie. And all those Americans who live and work in the real economy must unhappily hope that the rest of the Republican Party is duped by the lie. Or at least, that the rest of the Republican Party will pretend to be duped.

Read it in its entirety.

15 Comments

  1. I’m not going to join in the usual bile from the Left (and those who join the Left as a matter of course, like Frum), but rather direct the readers to the following, which actually shows what so-called Tea Party people have to say. Readers can judge their unrealism as well as their fervor for themselves. (Posters on this site will overestimate their fervor and their unrealism given the current budget-related state of affairs, but some of their comments are similar to the truly unrealistic things and stances of the farther Left about Obama and many other “corporate Dems.”)

    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/P.....isis-video

  2. If this tea party obstacle continues and fiscal Armageddon comes to fruition, I wonder if there will be bloodshed?

  3. So DLS, what’s your point (other than your endlessly repeated belief that the left is full of “bile”)? The link you provide only tells us that tea partiers think John Boehner is to liberal, which we already know.

    I think the John Cole quote is right on target:

    “They think they can burn the entire system down and out of the ashes will form Conservatopia. They really do think of themselves as the vanguard of the Galtitariat.”

  4. The point was obvious as well as clearly evident. Why the question and the false charges? [sigh]

    Cole is wrong. The typical “Tea Party” people spare entitlements (and the military), which is inconsistent with any serious reform.

  5. A time existed when my rage at the GOP for the W years and lockstep voting habits was so extreme that I truly did not care if their party went the way of the DoDo.

    Oddly I now find myself trying to create a firewall between them and the TP to highlight to any that will listen where the true problem lies in the current scenario. I think this is because I fear if the GOP died we would get a TP clone in its place and that is something I am not as sure the Republic could withstand.

  6. DLS is correct the TP are merely populists and like populists throughout history they are selling candy without owning or having access to an actual candy factory. In short they are doubling down on the cut taxes but never cut spending Reagan legacy(not one that was even his desire I would note).

    They want to save those items where changes or cuts MUST happen all while keeping taxes low or actually cutting them more. They are a DANGER at this point.

  7. Would John McCain please stand up? (and be recognized)

    The GOP has spent all the political capital on this game of chicken which in the end will amount to nothing.

    The backlash means that GOP stock down, Dem stock up. Would the dems even have earned this bump in favorability, simply because they can behave slightly better at the dinner table?

    If 82% of the Tea Party are dismissing Boehner’s leaderhip, one can imagine that TP will split into its own “true” party.

    Punch line: GOP budgeted all their capital into winning this battle, and now it isn’t even clear what the objective is. Dems will win big, even though they dont deserve it.

    Exalt the new party: independent.
    Oh yeah, independents dont need party lines and dues and pledges.

    We may learn to think, after all.

  8. Indeed– they’re populists.* That actually makes them compatible with the much rarer populist Left, in that I suspect many of them wouldn’t be averse to protectionism. (They’d just differ with the farther Left populist types when it could come to attaching tariffs as punitive measures against nations that don’t practice environmental policies, most leftist labor policy goals, and so on. There is something of note there, though, that even righties, who don’t like labor unions, might want to “punish” nations that use exploitive cheap-labor policies, such as a certain growing giant in the Orient.) That, too, is hardly Galtian.

    * And don’t forget that the Left misuses “Tea Party” routinely, to refer often to any and all social and even religious conservatives, as well as wrongly to so many “economic conservatives,” too.

  9. [H]yperflow wrote:

    Would John McCain please stand up? (and be recognized)

    Lost in the emotional storm these days is: What would a President McCain have done before now and what would he be doing now?

  10. Sky, I’ve also written that it’s an interesting subject how the GOP in the House and the GOP in some states of post-2010 note are behaving and will behave — there are those who plainly want to create a better business climate (perhaps doing more than they ought, critics would say), while there also is that rise of the social and religious conservatives we saw later in 2020 (which is not the Tea Party and rest-of-the-public rejection of Dem liberalism in 2009-2010), who are active in the states currently.

    (Abortion limits, stricter laws on immigration, gun liberalization, etc.)

  11. More on those active Republicans in some states (and feebler efforts by the far Left in others):

    http://nationaljournal.com/pol.....1;20110722

    Ron Beasley, I’ve written would understand that, and so might others.

    More to the point, look beyond the “Tea Party” if trying to observe what Republicans in the House and in the states are doing, may do.

  12. DLS-I was actually going to note that the main difference between many in the TP and those on the progressive left wing is the sticking point of social issues. That alone keeps them FAR apart which in my view is one of the things that keeps us somewhat safe. The other problem is that the TP want huge cuts but have very unrealistic beliefs on where those funds can be found. It is almost like they think everything that progressives have proposed HAS been passed instead of ignored which is what almost always happens. Well that and the far left and far right tend to have similar views on where the money goes though in reality…it doesnt.

    As for a difference with McCain, he would be discussing 3-1 revenue versus spending cuts with a Dem House that was heavily progressive and howling for his blood. It may sound like a snark but I think it is closer to reality than anyone would like to admit.

  13. I think you’re right about President McCain versus that Dem post-2008 (and stimulation-minded, initially) Congress. It’s kind of intriguing to think about how the Dems in Congress might have gone even farther left just to combat the “imperial” (GOP) President.

  14. Sky, note that the “TP” also exhibits unrealistic views about “growth” (of the economy) if we have tax cuts. (Tax increases are a negative incentive, tax cuts a positive incentive, but just because the incentive is there, notably any positive incentive, means it will work as expected.) I do believe they’re ideological rather than just a few corporate whores. (No telling if that changes if they stay in office.)

  15. Faith-based economic principles, e.g. that there is some correlation between tax policy and employment levels, need to be supported by actual historical data. In fact, there are no such correlations; these two statistics have moved independently throughout the past several presidents.

    Claiming that higher taxes on the “job-creators” will raise unemployment might play to the populists, but the alternative of cutting even more government spending is what will actually hurt employment the most in the short-term.

    And more short-term economic pain might not be such a bad investment, in the minds of some of our culture warriors with political aspirations. Me, I’m kind of sick of the whole thing.

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