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Posted by on Jun 28, 2011 in Economy, Politics | 0 comments

“Partisan” Fight Over Debt Ceiling Inside One Party

Yup. It’s Boehner v. Cantor, according to Juan Williams. Both men are pretty bad (and pretty good examples of GOP quality). This time Cantor has the edge on nastiness, but Boehner is the one getting crushed.

This battle is Republican versus Republican. It features John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Speaker of the House on one side, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on the other. And right now Cantor is winning big.

Cantor outflanked the Speaker last week when he quit Vice President Joe Biden’s bipartisan negotiations to raise the debt ceiling. Cantor, who had previously praised the Democrats in the talks for laying out $2 trillion in cuts over 10 years, decided he did not want the adult responsibility of agreeing to anything that far-right critics might view as a tax increase.

So he took a walk on the negotiations without telling Boehner. Incredibly, Cantor first announced he was out of any dealmaking with a call to the Wall Street Journal. Now there is a new and profoundly rude way to announce a political divorce. …The Hill

Will Boehner take the bait?

Cantor’s decision to abdicate any pretense of being a political leader set a trap for Boehner. The Speaker is now politically exposed to fire from every direction as he goes into the final phase of negotiations with President Obama and the Democrats.

So once again the nation’s interests are put on hold while two of the worst of the Republican leadership duke it out in public. These are not serious leaders at a time when a misstep could bring the financial markets down again.

We live in an era of public loathing for Washington politicians who fail to get anything done because they are so lost in the politics of polarization. All that anger will be dumped on Speaker Boehner — and Boehner alone — because Cantor has walked off the playing field. A Pew poll released last week found 42 percent of Americans say Republicans will be to blame if the debt limit is not raised. And a very lonely Boehner will be the high-profile public face of congressional Republicans when the public assault begins.

So where are Democrats in all this?

Already Democrats are unloading on Boehner — not Cantor.

And the White House?

… The president’s economic team says small business and the middle class are not in their sights for any tax increase. They pointedly say they are asking Boehner to match GOP calls for cuts to health and retirement entitlement spending, notably Medicare, by ending tax breaks for the “millionaires and billionaires” who fly around in corporate jets. They also want to eliminate tax subsidies for oil and gas companies and raise tax rates on “carried interest,” earned by fabulously rich hedge fund managers.

The trouble with Democrats is that they make sense, not dramatic gestures. The public likes action.

However, and in spite of the drama, the GOP isn’t getting through this Boehner-Cantor thing with much grace — or clarity.

“…Make no mistake,” says Juan Williams. “…It is not Obama who is hurt by Cantor’s political play. It is his fellow Republican, Speaker Boehner, who is left carrying the GOP flag into battle with no one beside him or behind him.”

For a moment there, I thought Williams was referring to Obama as the “fellow Republican.”

Cross posted from the blog Prairie Weather.