The House debt ceiling bill is still waiting for a vote. Tea Party members, in and out of Congress, do not agree that it would be wise.
The debt ceiling debate in the House
Yesterday, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Speaker of the House, announced that the House would vote on his measure to cut less than $1 trillion from the federal budget, and to raise the debt ceiling by a like amount. The Congressional Budget Office forced him to revise his measure, saying that an earlier version would have cut nothing.
The country waited for the House to vote. And waited. And waited. And is still waiting.
The problem for the Tea Party: neither Boehner’s plan nor the one that Senate Democratic Floor Leader Harry W. Reid (D-NV) wants, even promises to cut the budget by more than $2.2 trillion. Standard and Poor said last week that without cuts of at least $4 trillion over ten years, they would downgrade US government debt from AAA to AA. Raising the debt ceiling under that circumstance would seem irresponsible.
The House needs 216 votes to pass anything. Two House seats are vacant, and two sitting Members (including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ) will be absent for medical reasons. At last report, 22 House Republicans still refuse to vote for the Boehner plan.
Reid, for his part, will not hear of Boehner’s plan. He boasts that every member of the Senate Democratic Caucus would vote against it.
A plagiarized insult in the Senate
Two days ago The Wall Street Journal published this editorial, saying that the Republicans face a “reality test.” It contained such gems as these:
The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue, and the public will turn en masse against . . . Barack Obama. The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor.
This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell into GOP Senate nominees. The reality is that the debt limit will be raised one way or another, and the only issue now is with how much fiscal reform and what political fallout.
Yet the Journal also had to admit that:
It’s true that the Boehner plan doesn’t solve the long-term debt problem, but Mr. Obama won’t agree to anything that does.
Given that, the Journal offered no reason to accept the Boehner plan. This is especially true since the House already passed a plan that would satisfy Standard and Poor: the “cut, cap, balance” plan.
Nevertheless, the Journal ran with this editorial. And then Senator John McCain (R-AZ) read that editorial out loud on the floor of the Senate.
Tea Party reaction
Nicholas E. Purpura. Photo: self.
Nicholas E. Purpura, speaking from his home in Wall Township, NJ, was furious. “I have never seen such a Quisling,” he said of McCain. His opinion of Boehner is not much better.
Those so-called “cuts” are phony! They’ve cut nothing! And the real solution is so simple, even a child could understand it!
- Lower, not raise, the debt ceiling.
- Eliminate the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, and several other existing departments and agencies whose missions are unconstitutional.
- Eliminate foreign aid to all countries except the Republic of Israel.
- Repeal the health care reform bill. (He and his friend Donald R. Laster Jr. are already litigating against that.)
- Reassign any affected civilian employees to the Department of Defense, to do clerical work that the Department now asks active-duty military people to do.
- Issue hundreds of oil and gas drilling permits. This, Purpura says, is the only real stimulus that the economy can use.
Other Tea Party activists are just as furious. Darla Dawald, National Director of the Patriot Action Network, left an audio-only message urging people to oppose the Boehner plan and stick to what the House has already passed. McCain’s reading of the Wall Street Journal editorial in the Senate did not impress her. Neither did this statement by House Democratic Floor Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):
What I am more worried about is saving the world from the Republicans—saving life on this planet as we know it.
RoseAnn Salanitri, candidate for the New Jersey Assembly, declined comment on McCain, Reid, or Pelosi, except to say:
Do Reid and Pelosi really expect us to take their advice on our country’s finances, when they’re the ones that got us into this mess in the first place?
The mainstream media are trying to call the Tea Party unreasonable. But is it reasonable to ask for a higher credit limit, while still living beyond your means?
She offered a practical example:
When you apply for a mortgage, any loan officer will want to see your debt-to-income ratio. And if it is too high, he will tell you to lower your overall debt before he will lend you more money. That is what we must do: lower our debt. Because our debt-to-income ratio is out of whack.
Other Tea Party activists said that the House should reject anything short of the “cut, cap, balance” plan that it has already passed.
Featured image: the classic Weimar-era illustration of wheeling a barrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread.