He insists (as he’s done before) that he’s on the fence about whether they should vote no, but if even a guy who’s famous for apocalyptic rhetoric is uncomfortable with the possibilities from this vote, it’s a cinch that the GOP will rustle up enough support to raise the ceiling. (No less than Paul Ryan admitted as much yesterday.) The suspense isn’t whether the votes are there; the suspense is whether The One will very foolishly try to capitalize on the GOP’s dilemma by driving a hard bargain on the spending cuts Republicans need to make this vote palatable to the base. Is he ready to play Chicken? Because the jerkier he acts, the greater the risk that he’ll antagonize conservatives to the point where they have little choice but to vote no.
Boehner’s keeping a watchful eye on congressional tea partiers:
On the debt-limit vote, Boehner and his team watched with dismay as Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania said they might not support raising the ceiling. Skepticism runs deep in the Republican Caucus about the economic imperative to raise the ceiling above its current $14.3 trillion limit, and Cantor said that the GOP leadership will use a series of votes, including the health care repeal maneuver next week, to build support for the debt vote. The theory is this: If freshman Republicans, full of the animal spirits of the midterm elections, can take a whack at health care and get several spending-cut votes under their belt by the time the debt vote rolls around, they might be in a more malleable mood…
If House Republicans begin to walk away from big spending cuts, dissension could brew immediately, weakening the GOP before the debt vote and diminishing its ability to extract, or even credibly negotiate, a meeting of the minds with the White House on structural budget reforms or agreed-upon spending cuts. A deal with Obama on cuts would give the GOP a real accomplishment, as opposed to ephemeral victories on the House floor that die in the Senate and never make it to the president’s desk. But that appears unlikely if the GOP ranks split. There’s no cleavage yet, but warning signs are more prevalent than many expected to see this early.
So there’s your answer to the endless leftist whining about how the vote on repealing ObamaCare is a meaningless waste of time. On the contrary, it’s a useful spoonful of sugar for the base to make the medicine of raising the debt ceiling go down easier. And there’s some sweetness here for Obama too if he’s willing to accept it: Because the debt ceiling is such a crucial vote, he could use it as an excuse with his own base to agree to the steep spending cuts the GOP wants. Liberals won’t be happy about it, but whatever. His problem in 2012 is independents, not leftists, and seriousness about spending will help win them back.
As for Bachmann, note how Beck presses her on running for presidency — and how she doesn’t deny it. Dude, I think she’s serious. Click the image to watch.