For both parties, deficit ceiling talks reveal fault lines
With debt ceiling talks showing no progress, some GOP leaders and constituencies are becoming concerned by the party's hard line in negotiations. Meanwhile, some Democrats are similarly worried about President Obama's bargaining.
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Republican congressional leaders also signaled their concerns. Senator McConnell proposed a plan that would let Obama raise the federal debt ceiling in three increments without guaranteed spending cuts and without Republican approval. In proposing the arrangement, McConnell warned that Republicans could “destroy” the party’s brand by allowing a default.Skip to next paragraph
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A new Quinnipiac University poll found that voters, by a margin of 48 percent to 34 percent, would be more likely to hold Republicans rather than the president responsible if the debt ceiling is not raised.
McConnell’s proposal got a cold reception from Republican House majority leader Eric Cantor who said, “currently, there is not a single debt limit proposal that can pass the House of Representatives.” He said additional spending cuts should be nailed down.
Many freshman Republicans with tea party ties have said they did not see a major risk in letting the government run out of borrowing room. Republican presidential candidate and tea party favorite Michele Bachmann said this week that, “I’m ‘no’ on raising the debt ceiling right now, because I’ve been here long enough that I’ve seen a lot of smoke and mirrors in the time that I’ve been here, but I haven’t been here long enough to forget who I serve or where I come from.”
In contrast, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi had positive words for McConnell's efforts. "What I think of what Senator McConnell, Leader McConnell, has advanced is that it is a recognition that we must lift the debt ceiling, and for that reason it has that value," she told a press conference Thursday. “Everyone who is concerned about lifting the debt ceiling is saying bravo for Senator McConnell.”
White House spokesman Mr. Carney said that while the McConnell plan is “not the preferred option,” the White House “appreciates the fact” the plan would uphold the full faith and credit of the United States
There have been reports of tension between House Speaker John Boehner and Congressman Cantor, with Cantor seen as taking a harder line in negotiations on the debt ceiling. But at a Thursday news conference, Speaker Boehner sought to quiet those rumors. Boehner put his arm around Cantor and said, “We have been in this fight together.” The speaker added “we’re in the fox hole.”
Meanwhile, there also have been divisions among Democrats. Most notably, Obama indicated a willingness to accept cuts in Medicare spending and changes in Social Security as part of a $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan.
That opened a gap with progressive members of the Democratic Party. Minority leader Pelosi responded to the president’s offer by saying, "We do not support cuts in benefits to Social Security or Medicare." Pelosi said such a step would “compromise support” from Democrats for raising the debt ceiling.