Both parties wary of debt ceiling politics
May 10th, 2011
06:13 PM ET
12 years ago

Both parties wary of debt ceiling politics

Washington (CNN) - The GOP senator in charge of electing Republicans to the Senate in 2012 tells CNN he is advising fellow Republicans to vote against raising the debt ceiling without major entitlement reforms, in addition to spending cuts.

"My advice to any of my colleagues who will listen is that we should vote against it and let those people who vote for it explain why it was they couldn't stop the spending spree and raise the limit on our maxed out credit card," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

"I think, there is no incentive at all for Republicans in the Senate to vote for it unless we get something real, and by that I mean something systemic," Cornyn said Tuesday in a Senate hallway.

Cornyn said something "systemic" would mean a significant overhaul to programs like Medicare, along with big federal spending cuts, which he appeared to suggest would be tough to achieve.

Cornyn's comments underscore how politically dicey it is to raise the debt ceiling above the now $14.3 trillion in order to keep the U.S. from defaulting on loans.

A CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll showed 60 percent of Americans oppose Congress raising the debt ceiling, including 78 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of independents.

That kind of opposition, especially from independent voters, is the reason Democrats are not resisting Republican calls for spending cuts to go along with raising the debt ceiling.

It is also why House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer told reporters Tuesday that any vote to raise the nation's debt limit should give the Treasury Department enough borrowing authority to last through the next election cycle.

"The country will be well served if we can come to an agreement that increasing the debt which doesn't make this a monthly, or bi-monthly or tri-monthly issue. I think that's not good for the economy," Hoyer said at his weekly session with reporters.

Rejecting suggestions from some conservative Tea Party activists, who suggest holding monthly votes on raising the debt ceiling, Hoyer said, "That would of course further destabilize the markets very substantially and create great uncertainty."

But it is as much about politics as it is about the markets.

Many House Republicans also say it would be best to take one vote that lifts the debt limit through the 2012 election. One GOP leadership aide called the issue "toxic" for their members, even if it is paired with significant spending cuts.

House Speaker John Boehner laid down a marker Monday night that Republicans will demand spending cuts greater than the increase in debt authority.

But Tuesday, GOP leaders – including those taking part in bipartisan negotiations led by Vice President Biden – were careful not to get specific on what that means in terms of dollars, and time frame.

"The extent of time or the amount of time is going to be directly related to what is in the proposal that could be or not be agreed upon," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, representing House Republicans in the negotiations.

One GOP aide suggested the "trillions" in cuts that Boehner called for could be achieved over a ten year period, which is typically how Congress measures savings in their budget windows.

The aide explained Republicans could get some cuts with immediate impact, such as trimming back agriculture subsidies, and then get larger savings from reforms to mandatory spending for entitlement programs over the next decade.

Earlier in the day it was reported that Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, who is representing Senate Republicans in the talks, wanted $6 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

But Kyl told CNN that is simply the level of spending cuts in the House GOP budget, and that he and other Republicans are not demanding any specifics yet.

"Nobody is saying there is a line in the sand about what has to exist here, but let me just be real clear, Republicans will vote for a debt ceiling increase only if we do something really serious about the debt," said Kyl.

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell backed House Speaker Boehner's pledge that Republicans will not support any deal to reduce the deficit that includes raising taxes.

A bipartisan group of six senators, known as the "Gang of Six", has been meeting for months, discussing what amounts to some tax increases as part of tax reform to reduce the deficit.

Although the group includes some of the Senate's biggest conservatives and McConnell allies like Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, he abruptly dismissed the idea that they will find an acceptable deficit reduction plan.

"With all due respect to the Gang of Six, or any other bipartisan discussions going on this issue, the discussions that can lead to a result between now and August are the talks being led by Vice President Biden," said McConnell.

"That's a process that could lead to a result, a measurable result, in the short term," he said.

As for the Biden led talks, he said he envisions a deal that includes "short term, mid term and long term" spending reductions with "no blue smoke and mirrors."

"We can't get this job done and we cannot raise the debt ceiling without impacting some entitlements," said McConnell.

Filed under: Debt • Democrats • Republicans
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. GI Joe

    Looks like the obstructionists have their fascist marching orders.

    May 10, 2011 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  2. Texas Doc

    Do it I dare you. You thought shutting down the Government would play well, just wait and see how popular GOP politics of destruction play out on this issue. Cat's out of the bag boys, everyone now knows what you guys are about and they are not happy. Just look at all of the town hall protests against your policies. That will get get worse. Face it, we're just not nto you guys.

    May 10, 2011 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  3. What Cornyn is saying is that the Republics will Send America into a second Great Depression . . .

    if they can spin it so Obama takes the blame.

    Party over Country
    Power over Patriotism

    May 10, 2011 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  4. Four and The Door

    The current debt ceiling of $14.294 trillion was necessary after the Obama/ Pelosi/ Reid political spending machine increased national debt by $4 trillion in their first 2 years of unchecked spending. Unfortunately, most of that spending was blown on 'fixing' the housing problem, unemployment, bank loaning and other Democratic programs that actually don't look fixed.

    So now they are saying that they were just kidding and that $14.294 trillion wasn't really high enough?!?! Who is kidding who? This is a farce. And they don't even want this tied to spending controls? Really?

    May 10, 2011 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  5. rusty155

    Just go to show you how much the Republican and the Tea Party care about the American People. If the dept ceiling Isn't rise you are going to hurt a lot of American people and America It self. You won't be able to pay the Military and there Family or the Old Or the Disable. Plus you will hurt America credit Rating. Want American people need to do Is get you Republican and Tea party nut cases out of office. American people put you Republican In control of the House for a Reason, and It not what you are doing now. We didn't put you there to attack the Middle Class ,the POOR and The OLD and Disabled. like you say when you took over the house In 2010, American people gave the Republican a second chance. Well let me tell you that you will not get a 3RD chance, Because a lot of you will be gone In 2012. John Boehner you enjoy the two years you have as speaker of the House because In 2012 you won't have It ,even If you get lucky and make It back In 2012.

    May 10, 2011 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  6. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Maybe it's just me, but it sounds like these guys are trying to learn on the "fly" because repeating the same thing over and over again is not the solution, just words and no action. Welcome to the idiot club of Repugs.

    May 10, 2011 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  7. Mike in Wa

    AS much as I hate having the tax rate go up it is necesary with spending cuts to get the budget to a manageable level and start paying down the deficit that has been built up.

    May 10, 2011 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  8. Former Republican, now an Independent

    The word "entitlement" is being used by the republican party to make people believe that Social Security is a gift. The fact is, every worker in America paid for SS through FICA taxes and their employer matched these funds penny for penny. These funds were then invested in U.S. Government Secure Bonds until nthe money was needed. Now these funds are needed and the republicans do not want to pay the American workers what is owed them. If they did, the republican party would have to make cuts for big oil, big business and the wealthy people they have sold their soul to for obscene amounts donated to their campaign funds.

    May 10, 2011 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |