When it comes to beating back extremists, I’m all in favor of living to fight another day, so the idea of kicking the can down the road on some horrible debt deal never seems like the worst thing that could happen. But I can’t figure out why everyone seems to believe that by extending the debt ceiling three months the House Republicans have been vanquished for all time. It doesn’t sound as if the Republicans believe that:
Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), who declined to vote for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) earlier this month, said he was “OK” with the leadership’s strategy of putting off a fight over the debt ceiling until after a pair of battles over government funding and the automatic spending cuts of sequestration over the next two months.
The chief Republican vote-counter, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) told reporters the leadership had whipped the bill during a Tuesday afternoon vote series but had not counted the totals yet. He was vague on the conservative claims that the leadership, from Boehner on down, had committed to putting forward a budget that balances within 10 years.
“We had very good discussions. We’ve always wanted to get to a balanced budget,” he said. “I think 10 years is a great time to get to a balanced budget. I would have wanted to get there beforehand.”
“I’m committed to getting to a balanced budget,” he added.
Two other conservatives who have bucked the leadership in previous fiscal votes, Reps. Trey Gowdy (S.C.) and Lynne Westmoreland (Ga.) said Tuesday they would probably support the bill.
“This is the most viable option that we’ve got,” Westmoreland said, likening the strategy to a chess game.
With a smaller majority in the 113th Congress, Boehner’s hold on his conference has been weakened in recent months, with a majority of Republicans voting against legislation on the fiscal cliff and providing disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Conservatives described a tentative ceasefire with the leadership, but they put heavy pressure on Boehner and his team to deliver both on the party’s budget resolution and in the fiscal battles ahead.
Maybe this really is total surrender and they are all just blowing smoke. The debt ceiling battle is done, we’ll get through the sequester with a reasonable deal that won’t include cuts to vital programs and mature governance will have returned to the land. But that sure doesn’t sound like what those guys have in mind. It’s very hard for me to believe that Club for Growth has overnight become a responsible citizen.
I’m going to guess they are just making a tactical retreat. Hopefully the Democratic generals are aware of that. (Or should I call them the Washington Generals?)
Whatever the case, this gave me the biggest laugh I’ve had all week:
The House Republican budget proposal approved last year would not have balanced until close to 2040, according to projections at the time, meaning that the party will have to find steeper cuts to do so sooner without raising taxes.
Conservatives said the path would be easier in 2013 because of the tax increases that have become law as part of the fiscal cliff deal, and because the budget would include the more than $1 trillion in scheduled cuts from sequestration.
Talk about making lemons out of lemonade …