Erika Johnsen

House Republicans are linking arms and standing together after the last week’s special election-loss of an upstate New York district, a supposed referendum on the Medicare measures in Paul Ryan’s budget plan. Instead of running scared and backing away from hardcore fiscal reform, The Hill reports that the bulk of the GOP is defying electoral danger and committing to the tough stuff:

“To back away from this or to get skittish for fear of losing a few seats or even the majority would be pretty darn irresponsible,” Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) told The Hill.

Though that kind of view might be expected from a member of the House’s Tea Party Caucus like Gingrey, it is broadly shared, even by more centrist figures like strategist Mark McKinnon.

“Republicans should not run from the Ryan plan,” McKinnon said. “That is a lose-lose proposition. We’re tagged with it anyway, so running doesn’t help. But it’s also a bold and courageous plan that I believe, over the long run, voters will recognize and reward.”

GOP leaders on the Sunday talk shows rallied around the Ryan plan even as they acknowledged the role it played in last week’s loss of a GOP-leaning district. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said he voted for the Ryan plan, while House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said he “absolutely” stood behind it.

The result in New York highlights the danger Republicans face of becoming trapped between a fiscally hawkish base on the one hand and a general population that dislikes specific government cuts (even if it supports the idea in the abstract) on the other…

“I think it would be dangerous for my party to assume NY-26 is a one-off, though it may well be,” Gingrey acknowledged. “But it might be a blessing in disguise [prompting us] to make sure the messaging is correct, honest and effective. Certainly, we need to examine that.”

In another display of unity, the House is staging a vote tonight in which every Republican representative is expected to vote with a resounding “no” on the proposed debt-ceiling hike of an additional $2.4 trillion without significant spending cuts.


Erika Johnsen

Erika Johnsen is a Web Editor for Townhall.com and Townhall Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @erikajohnsen.