Advertisement

GOP's Gang Warfare on Debt Ceiling

GOP's Gang Warfare on Debt Ceiling

By E.J. Dionne - July 21, 2011

WASHINGTON -- Media reports are touting the Senate's Gang of Six and its new budget outline. But the news that explains why the nation is caught in this debt-ceiling fiasco is the gang warfare inside the Republican Party. We are witnessing the disintegration of tea party Republicanism.

The tea party's followers have endangered the nation's credit rating and the GOP by pushing both House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor away from their own best instincts.

Cantor worked amiably with the negotiating group organized by Vice President Joe Biden and won praise for his focus even from liberal staffers who have no use for his politics.

Yet when the Biden group seemed close to a deal, it was shot down by tea party's champions. Boehner left Cantor exposed as the frontman in the Biden talks and did little to rescue him.

Then it was Boehner's turn on the firing line. He came near a bigger budget deal with President Obama but the same right-wing rejectionists blew this up, too. Cantor evened the score by serving as a spokesman for Republicans opposed to any tax increase of any kind.

Think about the underlying dynamic here. The evidence suggests that both Boehner and Cantor understand the peril of the game their Republican colleagues are playing. They know we are closer than we think to having the credit rating of the United States downgraded. This may happen before Aug. 2, the date everyone is using as the deadline for action. We have less time than we think.

Unfortunately, neither of the two House leaders seems in a position to tell the obstreperous right that it is flatly and dangerously wrong when it claims that default is of little consequence. Rarely has a congressional leadership seemed so powerless.

Compare the impasse Boehner and Cantor are in with the aggressive maneuvering of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. He knows how damaging default would be and is working with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to concoct a way out.

1 | 2 | Next Page››

Copyright 2011, Washington Post Writers Group

The Incredible Shrinking President
William Murchison · November 18, 2014
Why China Is Cooperating on Climate Change
Steve Chapman · November 16, 2014
Obama's Beijing Surprise
David Ignatius · November 14, 2014
Our Gathering Storm
Michael Gerson · November 14, 2014

E.J. Dionne

Author Archive

Follow Real Clear Politics

Latest On Twitter