Political Animal


January 16, 2013 4:04 PM GOPers Cruisin’ For Bruisin’ on Debt Limit

By Ed Kilgore

A new ABC/WaPo survey shows that if public opinion matters, congressional Republicans who are spoiling for some kind of debt limit fight aren’t exactly in a strong position.

When asked if they favor the president’s position that the debt limit should be increased without first enacting spending cuts, or the GOP position that the increase should be denied (and/or, to accomodate its new hep idea, some federal government operations should be shut down) unless spending cuts are agreed to, Obama’s position prevails by a 58/36 margin. Indeed, the “keep spending separate” stance is supported by 45% of self-identified Republicans, and 54% of self-identified conservatives.

And those findings, it should be remembered, precede the kind of dire warnings from business and financial leaders we’re certain to hear if a full or partial default is imminent.

In terms of the credibility the two sides take into a debt limit fight: it’s not close. Obama’s current job approval rating is at 55%; that of congressional Republicans is at 24%. And here’s the shocker: 67% of respondents—and 50% of Republicans—think congressional GOPers are doing to little to compromise with Obama on big issues. The corresponding numbers saying Obama’s not compromising enough are 48% for all respondents and 20% of Democrats. True, 16% of Republicans think their champions in Congress are compromising too much with Obama (the percentage of Democrats faulting Obama for too much compromise is identical). So that’s “the base” debt limit hardliners are representing, and a pretty good reflection of the disproportionate power of right-wing activists.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Josef K on January 16, 2013 4:30 PM:

    A new ABC/WaPo survey shows that if public opinion matters,

    That's going to be the kicker, isn't it? Does the 'defaulter caucus' fear public backlash more than it embraces its budgetary nihilism? At the moment, the latter is their main driver.

    One can only hope the former takes hold, sooner rather than later.

  • c u n d gulag on January 16, 2013 4:33 PM:

    Maybe the Republicans feel that they don't have to respond to public opinion, since the ones in the House are in safe gerrymandered districts, and so are immune from any backlash?
    And the Senators from Red States feel the same way, since there's almost ZERO chance a Democrat can beat them - but someone from even farther right, might.

    The question will be, are there enough Nihilists in the House, who will be willing to spray Zippo lighter fluid to the economy, and then light a match?

    I'm afraid the answer might be "Yes."

    What give me some hope, is that I don't think Boehner is any great fan of these feckin' idjits, either.

    My evidence is his breaking the "Hastert Rule," to allow votes that may NOT have a majority of Republican support, to come to the floor for a vote.

    He may let the Senate vote on the Debt Ceiling first, and then bring the bill back to the House, and hope that the last vestiges of rationality in his party can defeat the New-age Nihilists.

    To use the 'full faith' and credit rating of this nation as hostage, is absolutely insane.
    And sure, there have been both Republicans AND Democrats who voted "No" before, but those were purely symbolic votes, Obama's included, and had no chance of actual success.

    McConnell can pose and huff all he wants, to get reelected in 2014 - the Senate Democrats have enough votes to do what they want, providing Reid can make it a "Standing Filibuster," or somehow, prevent an endless series of "Silent Holds," and other procedural games.

    The game will be in the House.
    And Boehner knows that if the countries economy, and the worlds, takes a downturn, that HE, and his party of fools and Nihilists will be held responsible.
    And, the bigger the downturn, the more blame.

  • Michael Robinson on January 16, 2013 4:35 PM:

    This is actually not so surprising a finding when you consider that, due to the Hastert Rule, the Republican House policy represents the view of the most right-wing 50%+1 of Republican primary voters in the most right-wing 50%+1 Republican congressional districts.

    In other words, majority Republican voter disapproval of House Republican policy positions is not a bug, it's a feature.

  • T2 on January 16, 2013 4:41 PM:

    public opinion doesn't matter to the House Repubs. They aren't in Congress to serve America, they are there to serve the inhabitants of their gerrymandered district. Time after time they are shown to be on the wrong side of public opinion and they just don't care.