Republican Leadership vs. Young Guns

As the Republican leadership reaches a deal with President Obama, the biggest stumbling block may be the newest members of their own coalition.

As the Republican leadership reaches a deal with President Obama, the biggest stumbling block may be the newest members of their own coalition.

National Journal (“Congressional GOP Leaders Slowly Convincing Newer Members of Importance of Raising Debt Ceiling“):

As top Republicans face delicate and difficult negotiations with the White House, they are beginning a concerted effort to prepare newer members of the Republican conference to vote in favor of raising the ceiling. This coming week’s most difficult task, some Republicans believe, will be getting their own freshman class to a yes vote.

The hurdles House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority LeaderMitch McConnell and their respective leadership teams face are formidable. The vast majority of new members, coupled with hard-core conservative veterans like Sen. Jim DeMint, began the year indicating there was no way they could vote to raise the debt ceiling. Some even believe there won’t be consequences if a deal isn’t reached by August 2.

Slowly, senior Republicans have been walking their newer colleagues off that position. Boehner, McConnell and the rest know what will happen if Republicans and Democrats cannot work out a deal; what’s more, they believe voters will ultimately blame them for obstruction, rather than Democrats. “The leadership uniformally understands the need to reach some kind of agreement that will avoid default,” said a senior House Republican aide.

McConnell has publicly made the case that a default will have serious negative political fallout for the GOP. In an interview on conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham’s program on Wednesday, McConnell said Democrats “want to blame the economy on us and the reason default is no better an idea today than when Newt Gingrich tried it in 1995 is that it destroys your brand. It would give the president an opportunity to blame Republicans for a bad economy.”

Privately, House Republicans have been driving home the message that a failure to increase the debt ceiling would be a disaster. Sources said Boehner has been “aggressive,” in one aide’s words, in articulating the need to reach a deal.

The problem here is that the freshman are not only idealists who still think they can change the world all by themselves, most of them were elected as a result of a powerful ideological wave. So, they’re True Believers who see themselves as fighting the good fight against a corrupt system.

The politics aren’t great, either. Doing the responsible thing and agreeing to the best deal they can get may get them primaried, accused of selling out their beliefs and becoming Washington Insiders, the most dreaded beast in politics.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    Never even a thought of course for what’s good for the country. What a lovely picture of this burned out, brain-dead, rage-o-holic remnant of the former party of Lincoln.

  2. john personna says:

    The strangest things for me have been the GOP soundbites, trying one last tome to push this as a pure spending problem, or Obama’s inflexibility.

    I guess though, those trial balloons must be failing with the mainstream, or worse turning them off.

  3. Muffler says:

    “The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state. The expense of government to the individuals of a great nation is like the expense of management to the joint tenants of a great estate, who are all obliged to contribute in proportion to their respective interests in the estate. In the observation or neglect of this maxim consists what is called the equality or inequality of taxation.” – Adam Smith

  4. Tlaloc says:

    Am I the only one who is amused but frightened that according to at least one report they brought in Paul freaking Ryan to convince the freshmen GOPers of economic realities? The same Ryan whose budget calls for magically reducing unemployment to 2.8%? In other words the same Paul Ryan who is bat &^%$ crazy when it comes to the economy?

    Was the problem that only he could speak their language of crazy?

  5. mattb says:

    @michael reynolds: Michael,

    As much as it sounds crazy, I do think that most of these Representatives are doing what they think is best for the country.

    The problem is (at least according to reports) that they believe so strongly that not raising the debt ceiling is the right thing — or that we won’t default/there won’t be big consequences to a default — is that it is they don’t seem to want to seriously consider that they might be wrong.

    And if an agreement is reached without an economic shakeup, the Tea Partiers outside of Congress can continue to claim that “nothing would have happened” if the ceiling would not have been raised.

  6. john personna says:

    As much as it sounds crazy, I do think that most of these Representatives are doing what they think is best for the country.

    The problem with that explanation is the number of IQ points I have to spot them for it to make sense.

    These guys are pushing a number of memes, but the latest seems to be “you don’t fix a spending problem with a tax increase.”

    How dumb do they think I am? For this to be a spending problem, taxes should have been held constant, while spending went out of control. I know that’s not what happened. Taxes were lowered as spending went out of control.

    Hence the fix rightly comes from both ends.

  7. john personna says:

    Or, as an alternately dumb explanation:

    “forget the wars, we can cut taxes and just remove teh socialism.”

  8. Terrye says:

    @michael reynolds: Michael, maybe they honestly feel that they are doing what is right for the country. I do hope a deal is made, but it is worth remembering that these new members are not the people who created this situation in the first place. They are not the ones who had years to bring some fiscal sanity to Washington and refused to do it. They are not the ones who voted that 900 billion dollar stimulus either. Democrats had years to cut spending for wars if they wanted to and they did not. They just complained about it and treated the GOP like war mongers. It was all politics for them.

  9. Terrye says:

    @john personna: John, When the Democrats took control of the Congress back in 2006, Bush had been president for 6 years. The Bush tax cuts had been in place for some time. The yearly budget deficit was $167 billion. That is roughly what the budget deficit is in a month now. If Republicans are being unrealistic for not pursuing higher taxes, the Democrats are being just as unrealistic for refusing to reform entitlements. Not only that, they created a whole new entitlement without any means to pay for it.

  10. Tlaloc says:

    As much as it sounds crazy, I do think that most of these Representatives are doing what they think is best for the country.

    Fanaticism is always about doing what you think is best but untempered by any regard for facts.

  11. That Guy says:

    @Tlaloc:

    “Fanaticism is always about doing what you think is best but untempered by any regard for facts.”

    An example: Demanding tax hikes while the economy is rapidly getting worse.

  12. john personna says:

    Terrye, the tax cuts plus the wars were enough to significantly expand the deficit even before adding the Bush and Obama stimuli.

    Are you asking me to forget history?

  13. john personna says:

    Actually Terrye’s post was particularly bad for getting pre-crash wrong, and treating the crash itself as optional Democratic spending.

  14. An Interested Party says:

    They are not the ones who voted that 900 billion dollar stimulus either.

    Well, one would think they would of liked at least a third of the stimulus bill which were tax cuts…of course, these people also aren’t the ones who voted for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and for Medicare Part D…although many other Republicans did…

    Not only that, they created a whole new entitlement without any means to pay for it.

    Umm, which entitlement is that? Medicare Part D? Sorry, sweetie, but that has Republican fingerprints all over it…

    An example: Demanding tax hikes while the economy is rapidly getting worse.

    Another example would be dramatically cutting spending while the economy is rapidly getting worse…

  15. Barb Hartwell says:

    I do not for one second believe the newcomers are so stupid to believe they are doing right for our country. I feel they are so blind with rage that Obama is still the president. They would put this country in the toilet before ever acknowledging him as our commander and chief. They are not true patriots as they are doing the bidding of the extremely wealthy and for some strange reason they have duped some uninformed followers along the way. The true Republicans were happy to have them on board, but I think they have realized they have separated the party. The sane people will have no choice but to vote for Obama again because the crazies they got running scare them too.

  16. sam says:

    @Terrye:

    They are not the ones who had years to bring some fiscal sanity to Washington and refused to do it. They are not the ones who voted that 900 billion dollar stimulus either

    You do know, Terrye, that one-third of the stimulus was tax cuts, right? Presumably that part of the stimulus was just peachy keen with the Tea Party. And, when you write ” Not only that, they created a whole new entitlement without any means to pay for it” — I’m guessing you mean Medicare Part D — a Republican initiative (actually, a faux Republican initiative). See, Bruce Bartlett, Republican Deficit Hypocrisy:

    [A] Republican president and a Republican Congress enacted the Medicare drug benefit, which former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker has called ‘the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s.”

    Even with a deceptively low estimate of the drug benefit’s cost, there were still a few Republicans in the House of Representatives who wouldn’t roll over and play dead just to buy re-election. Consequently, when the legislation came up for its final vote on Nov. 22, 2003, it was failing by 216 to 218 when the standard 15-minute time allowed for voting came to an end.

    What followed was one of the most extraordinary events in congressional history. The vote was kept open for almost three hours while the House Republican leadership brought massive pressure to bear on the handful of principled Republicans who had the nerve to put country ahead of party. The leadership even froze the C-SPAN cameras so that no one outside the House chamber could see what was going on.

    Among those congressmen strenuously pressed to change their vote was Nick Smith, R-Mich., who later charged that several members of Congress attempted to virtually bribe him, by promising to ensure that his son got his seat when he retired if he voted for the drug bill. One of those members, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, was later admonished by the House Ethics Committee for going over the line in his efforts regarding Smith.

    Really, you do need to get your history straight.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The yearly budget deficit was $167 billion.

    terrye, we are all entitled to our own opinion but not our own facts: Link

    I don’t even begin to know where you pulled that number from, but I suggest you shove it back there.

    Also:

    Economist Mike Kimel notes that the last five Democratic Presidents (Clinton, Carter, LBJ, JFK, and Truman) all reduced public debt as a share of GDP, while the last four Republican Presidents (GW Bush, GHW Bush, Reagan, and Ford) all oversaw an increase in the country’s indebtedness

    wikipedia

  18. Tamara Wells says:

    @Terrye: Well I am not sure that any of them need to be there they have all had time to come to some agreement . The problem is that weather we like it or not have created this our selves . Globle warming ,international trading,grocerys being so high . If we had stayed with in our means we would not be were we are . Now that we are here look at what we are going to do to our elderly that has worked for there money , and our children that will have to ask them selves what we were thinking . There is no way these problems are going to go away or be solved within two or three years . We need to figure out how the president and republicans & democrates can live like the poor and middle class for a year .Then let them go back to the drawing board . In the mean time America needs to get back to the basics . EVERY BODY HAS TO GET BACK TO THE BASICS . The rich would not get richier and our children would dislike us for a bit but would be better off .

  19. Tamara Wells says:

    We used to be the richiest and the place peaple wanted to come live . Now look at us . I bet that if you put the presidents money he spent on trips this year and the money that he gets paid . Along with all the money the house and the hole government makes a month i bet we could get some things paid off . I realize they are in power positions and they think they earn there money because they have alot to take care of like America will they are not doing there job very will and have’nt in years . Besides no one works harder then our military and look what they get paid ..LOL its a joke . There has to be something done soon crime has gone up and its because people can not feed there familys . Now we are going to have to pay more taxes really .