Debt limit saves GOP from political showdown

Republicans’ new acquiescence to letting the government pile up more debt with no strings attached spared them another politically debilitating showdown with the president
Associated Press
Feb 13, 2014

Republicans' new acquiescence to letting the government pile up more debt with no strings attached paid double political dividends: It spared the GOP another politically debilitating showdown with President Barack Obama and also forced Democrats to cast votes that rivals immediately used against them in this year's midterm elections.

The GOP's top priority is maintaining its House majority and seizing control of the Senate, and the political strategy is to keep it simple — talk incessantly about Obama's unpopular health care law and avoid cataclysmic fights like the one that led to last fall's 16-day partial government shutdown.

That largely rules out the contentious issue of overhauling the nation's immigration laws.

Both House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., convinced many in their GOP caucus to accept legislation lifting the nation's borrowing authority with no concessions from the Obama administration. Gone were demands for the Keystone XL pipeline, repeal of the health care law and even a popular plan to reverse the pension cut for working-age military retirees.

Republicans wanted to avoid the drama of a possible default and the political fallout from last year's government shutdown. Facing a Feb. 27 deadline from the Treasury, they acted swiftly, realizing that there was no negotiating with the White House or Democrats on the issue. Boehner, who has often struggled with his fractious caucus, including a strong lineup of tea partyers, got grudging respect from conservatives.

"I think it's always better to have something that is straightforward than smoke and mirrors," said Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., who didn't like the idea of attaching the military retiree provision to the debt limit bill. He added that Boehner was better off with his final strategy.

"It's much more honest to have a straightforward vote," Mulvaney said.

The House passed the debt limit bill with 193 Democratic votes and 28 Republican on Tuesday. Boehner and several other members of the leadership along with a handful of retiring congressmen provided the GOP votes.

"I think the speaker did the only thing that he could do," said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. "If you have certain votes that are going to be cast one way, and that's the only way they're going to go and there's no negotiation, then your hands become tied, depending on how many votes that is."

Immigration has no deadline and House Republicans from predominantly white districts see no political imperative to act this year. They fear days of divisive, internal debate over the issue could undercut their standing, especially with core conservative voters. Despite a desire to act, Boehner all but ruled out immigration this year, blaming his Republicans' distrust of Obama to enforce any new laws.

The debt-limit outcome left some outside groups grumbling, with the Tea Party Patriots demanding Boehner's ouster and railing against "go-along-to-get-along capitulation," but no loud voices in the GOP caucus threatened the speaker's standing. At least one Republican had suggested that if Boehner brought up immigration, his speakership was in jeopardy.

Immigration advocates argue that the strategy is shortsighted.

"Why did they go forward on the debt ceiling vote? Because they think their electoral future was at stake," said Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration group America's Voice. "If they don't take the window of opportunity to move forward on immigration this year, their electoral future is in doubt. Not in 2014, but in 2016 and beyond. So it may make it more comfortable for them in the short run, but it could doom them in the long run."

In 2016, Republicans will be defending 24 of 34 Senate seats, with several races in states with fast-growing Hispanic populations such as Florida and Arizona.

In the Senate this week, tea party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz demanded a 60-vote threshold to move ahead on the debt limit bill, forcing Republican leaders such as McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn to reluctantly deliver the votes. The maneuvering opened McConnell to criticism from the tea party and his Republican primary challenger, Matt Bevin.

"Outside of Washington, just about every American understands we can't keep going on the path we're on," said Cruz, who along with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, precipitated last fall's shutdown over demands for Obama to gut his health care law. "We're bankrupting the country. And it's irresponsible to our kids, and it's irresponsible to our grandkids."

Other Senate Republicans saw no positive outcome to Cruz's strategy.

"At the end of the day you still have to deal with the fact that you can't let the country default," said Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb. "What's the other strategy? Default? See how the world reacts to that, see what the stock market does?"

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the choice was clear.

"We can put the country through two weeks of turmoil, or we can get this vote behind us," he said.

By the end of the day on Wednesday, the bill lifting the borrowing authority passed on a party-line Senate vote of 55-43. Republican candidates moved quickly to criticize incumbent Democrats who voted for the legislation.

"With a national debt over $17.3 trillion or $54,000 for every American, we are clearly on an unsustainable fiscal path," said Dan Sullivan, who is looking to oust Alaska Sen. Mark Begich. "Instead of righting that course, Senator Begich voted today to send a blank check to President Obama, allowing the federal government to recklessly spend money we don't have."

Comments

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

No grander spectacle of party before the people could be made for either Rs or Ds in this article. As well, the proof of how much of a leviathan our Federal government is when those who are elected to legislate it don't even know how it works by wringing hands over "default".

A convention of the states to amend the Constitution can't come quickly enough and is fortunately gaining a lot of unnoticed steam. While the grasshoppers fiddle, we ants will continue on.

coasterfan

Only one of the 2 parties is truly dysfunctional, in the sense that it cannot even agree upon an agenda, and instead experiences constant infighting and a tug-of-war/power struggle. It's fascinating to watch today's Republican Party implode, as it finally whimpers in complete acquiescence to Obama and the Democrats.

Change is never pretty. Yet they continue to resist any type of evolution that might give them a fighting chance of being a viable political entity. Examples:

Problem: can't attract Latino voters. GOP Solution: Resist Immigration Reform and Amnesty. Problem: alienating women voters. GOP Solution: oppose abortion and expanded contraceptive services, oppose efforts to deal with sexual assault in the military.

And so it goes. With most every important issue, they continue to piddle down their legs, alienating millions of swing voters in the process.

Darwin's choice

Watch this, then tell us again who's dysfunctional.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a...

Obama at his best????

JMOP

Reverse? Obama went full throttle ahead!

There you go again

Oh, that is the best yet.
What, are you saying our President Obama is a big, fat, liar???

JudgeMeNot

Videos like that have the 0-bamabots running to the hole they crawled out from.

Thankfully, soon we can reverse the bad choices 0-bama has made for our great country. It is worst president EVER in the United States, and he is not even out of office yet!

(Please pass this on)

These are possibly the 5 best sentences you’ll ever read;

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!.
5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

Contango

^^^^Compliments of Adrian Rogers.

I still like the old Soviet dominated Eastern European phrase:

Socialism makes us all equal, equally poor.

EVERY empire and great nation, e.g. Rome, Spain, France, UK, Soviet Union, et. al, went down the same path to economic collapse as the U.S. is following with too much debt and military adventurism.

This time is NOT different.

History is NOT on the side of the progressive-socialist Democrats.

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." - Mark Twain.

grandmasgirl

JudgeMeNot: Agree 100%.

The Big Dog's back

Is that why you don't work?

Darwin's choice

Good one, wormy!

Contango

Coasterfan writes: "evolution that might give them a fighting chance of being a viable political entity."

So, Mr. 'political expert':

And what would a political party's platform that differs from the progressive-socialist Democrats look like?

Contango

Coasterfan writes: "alienating millions of swing voters,"

Know your history:

Mr. Romney took the independent voter block in '12.

http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs...

deertracker

He also took a big L!

Contango

Re: "He (snip)"

Independent voters = "swing voters," poop.

Dr. Information

just go away coasterfan. You and big dog and deer are in a boat of your own. Nobody with a brain agrees with anything you guys say. Its full of non fact, opinion based garbage. Go find another website.

deertracker

I don't like boats.

coasterfan

Doc: Apparently we aren't the minority viewpoint, or our guy wouldn't have won the election. I see an innate anger/frustration in most of the Republicans who post here. I'd be angry too, if my party was split as yours is. Clearly, you don't like when we Dems point out the obvious.

We think that Fox is opinion-based garbage, because (unlike CNN or the 3 major networks) during "news" broadcasts, they actually have 2-3 person discussions on the "news". When that happens - and they do it all the time - it blurs the line between News and Opinion/ Editorial. That's fine if they want to do that, but they really, really ought to drop the "Fair and Balanced" baloney, because they are anything but.

Unlike many of the conservatives who post here, I don't just get information from a website and post a link. Also, unlike most every conservative I know, I don't just listen/read information that backs up what I already believe. Although a mainstream Democrat, I do watch Fox for giggles quite often, along with Hannity, Levin and Limbaugh (since there really isn't anything except the Republican viewpoint on mainstream radio), although I can't stomach them for longer than 5-10 minutes at a time.

Fox and the conservative radio guys typically only tell half the story - the portion that reinforces their biased viewpoint. The danger of listening to only one viewpoint, of course, is that it's really easy to assume that everything you hear is the 'absolute truth'. The next step is you become absolutely sure that you're 100% correct,and anyone who disagrees with you is a stupid idiot.

In short, you become Contango, Darwin's Choice or Dr. Information.

I really do believe that Republicans, just as we Democrats do, want what is best for our country. Recent history continues to prove to me (and a majority of voters) that Republican economic ideas #1 make the economy worse, and #2 make things better for the extremely rich and worse for everyone else. If you don't agree with that, I'll be glad to remind you of the Recession of 2007-08. Recent history also shows that Dems don't have all the answers, but that things have gotten better under Obama and that he continues to fix the things Bush screwed up.

Contango

Re: "Apparently (snip)"

Delusional wrong-headed nonsense.

Conversely:

Bill Maher, MSNBC, "typically only tell half the story - the portion that reinforces their biased viewpoint. The danger of listening to only one viewpoint, of course, is that it's really easy to assume that everything you hear is the 'absolute truth'."

"In short, you become" coasterfan.

Notice, I tend to ask you straightforward questions, which you NEVER answer.

Fox, Limbaugh, et. al:

"You don't need a weatherman. To know which way the wind blows."

- Bob Dylan, "Subterranean Homesick Blues"

deertracker

Pooh, you are a master at not answering questions. "How does it feel?"

Contango

Re: "you (snip)"

Oh, I answer the questions, poop. But due to your ideological blindness, you just don't understand the answers.

Donegan

The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents — #43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic.
B. Obama.
Now for the last 5 years he has doubled Bush's Debt. To use your Gods words "That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic". I am sure you will not agree but then again you Dems are hypocrites.

Darwin's choice

Spin, ballerina, spin away!!! Cfan, you have to be getting paid to act so incredibly stupid. Guess that travel agency job sucks,huh?

You can't refute the lying sob in the video!!!!!

anthras

cfan says " #2 make things better for the extremely rich and worse for everyone else."

You can say that and many uninformed people will believe it however all the while Obama has been in office the gap continues to widen. Unemployment especially among young blacks is really critical at this time and the Democrats continue to say that the Republicans are anti poor and anti black and the people believe what he says of course what can you expect from a country that continues to slide because of sub standard education I just read a poll showing that 1 in 4 Americans do not realize that it is the earth that orbits the sun. I think that it might be best to eliminate the Federal Department of Education and allow the states to educate our youth the way they did it prior to double digit Jimmy Carter

Steve P

Like!

Contango

Remember this Nov: Vote Republicrat.

One party rule is best.

Arguments between two distinct socio-economic political philosophies tends to confuse the proletariate.

slightthroat212

why would anyone in their right mind vote for a Republican after what they did in holding the government hostage? I doubt that any American would soon forget that. No one doing business with any government entity at the time could get a thing done. And, if like me, you needed something done, you were at a complete stand still for some time. I don't like my time wasted for nonsense or someone trying to prove a stupid point like the Republican's did, especially the Tea Party portion of your Republican party. Sorry, that makes them no better than Obama in my book.

Contango

Re: "holding the government hostage,"

Yea, if the debt is left unchecked, attempting to tax, print, borrow and spend our way to prosperity which will end in eventual monetary and fiscal collapse is such a better idea eh?

Not-to-worry, the Repubs went along – they’re now safe to vote for!

The Big Dog's back

The debt didn't mean shinola to you right wingnuts when Raygun and Bush were President.

Darwin's choice

You go, wormy!

Donegan

So you are the same as the republicans because you do not care either huh? That whole "Bush is bad because he raised the debt" thing was all a show but now Bush2.5 is in office you all embrace spending and Cheneys mantra. That's known as hypocrisy you know.

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