Thursday, July 14, 2011

Graham, McConnell: GOP In A Bind On Debt Ceiling

Some Republicans are realizing that they have boxed themselves in with their extreme position on the debt ceiling. If they agree to increase tax revenue, they will upset their conservative base. If they don’t, they will cause the nation to default on its debt. Meanwhile, President Obama has shown a willingness to compromise, even in ways that have upset some of his supporters. In doing so, Obama may be outmaneuvering the GOP. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC, above left) realizes his party's precarious position:

For months, the Republican leaders have emphatically pledged that there will be no increase in the federal debt ceiling absent huge cuts in government spending and fundamental changes in popular social programs, all without the whiff of a tax increase.

Now, with negotiations stalled and a potential default by the United States government just over the horizon, they are being held to those promises by their own rank-and-file, leaving them in a bind that is defying easy resolution and putting them at risk of being blamed if things end badly.

Behind closed doors and by phone, they groped for a solution and struggled to assert some kind of control over the situation as rank-and-file Republican members, especially in the House, grew more confrontational.

…“Our problem is, we made a big deal about this for three months,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.

“How many Republicans have been on TV saying, ‘I am not going to raise the debt limit,’ ” said Mr. Graham, including himself in the mix of those who did so. “We have no one to blame but ourselves.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY, above right) spoke in similar terms:

“[Obama] will say Republicans are making the economy worse,” Mr. McConnell said in an interview with the conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. “It is an argument that he could have a good chance of winning, and all of the sudden we have co-ownership of the economy. That is a very bad position going into the election.”

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