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Posted by on Jul 27, 2011 in Economy, Politics | 15 comments

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.


….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.

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