Mere hours after President Obama angrily walked away from the debt deal negotiating table in a huff, Senate Democrats are taking a rhetorical hatchet to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, suggesting that he be banned from participating in future discussions. Left-wing blogger Greg Sargeant quotes Reid from a just-completed press conference:
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has shown he couldn’t be at the table, and Republicans agree he shouldn’t be at the table. One Republican told Politico last night, “he lost a lot of credibility when he walked away from the table. It was childish.”
We had negotiations going here in a room a short jog from here, and he walked out on the meeting...It was childish. Another Republican said Cantor is putting himself first. He said: “He is all about Eric.” End of quote.
The time for personal gain and political posturing are over. It’s time to put our economy and our country first. The risks we face are simply too great. We don’t need to take my word for it. More than 300 respected business leaders wrote to Congress night before last to make it clear how serious this crisis really is.
Notice how Reid cites anonymous Politico quotes from nameless, faceless Republicans to attack Cantor. Notice also that Democrats are now claiming that it was Cantor, not Obama, who "childishly" walked out of the meeting. Excuse me, but their beloved Politico reported exactly the opposite of their newly-contrived revisionist account:
President Barack Obama abruptly walked out of a stormy debt-limit meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday, a dramatic setback to the already shaky negotiations. “He shoved back and said ‘I’ll see you tomorrow’ and walked out,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters in the Capitol after the meeting.
Noted moderate Chuck Schumer has also concluded that Cantor must go:
@daveweigel - Schumer also says deal would be easier to reach if Cantor wasn't in the room.
Come to think of it, why not kick all of the Republicans out of the room? Then Democrats could get everything they want: A debt ceiling increase, hundreds of billions in tax hikes, few meaningful cuts to Leviathan, and more spending! What a productive negotiation. Meanwhile, two new polls hold conflicting verdicts for Republicans. Quinnipiac's latest is jam-packed with awful news for the GOP:
-Voters will blame Republicans over Obama 48 – 34 percent if the debt limit is not raised;
-Voters say 67 – 25 percent that an agreement to raise the debt ceiling should include tax hikes for the wealthy and corporations, not just spending cuts;
- Voters say 45 – 37 percent that Obama’s proposals to raise revenues are “closing loopholes,” rather than “tax hikes”;
- But voters say 57 – 30 percent that Obama’s proposals will impact the middle class, not just the wealthy.
John Podhoretz thinks the White House is seeing similar internal polling results, which he says explains Obama's strategic walk-out:
I suspect the president’s conduct in yesterday’s meeting was informed either by an early read-out on the Q poll or by private polling showing similar results. In which case, his departure from the meeting wasn’t a fit of weak pique, but rather an improperly understood expression of confidence. Thus, when he told Cantor not to call his bluff, he misspoke. He was warning Cantor not to call Obama’s bet—because Obama believes his hand is the winning hand and if Cantor calls, Cantor will lose.
Rasmussen, meanwhile, offers more promising data:
Just 34% think a tax hike should be included in any legislation to raise the debt ceiling. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 55% disagree and say it should not.
Voters remain very concerned about the debt ceiling issue. Sixty-nine percent (69%) believe that it would be bad for the economy if a failure to raise the debt ceiling led to government defaults. Only 6% believe it would be good for theeconomy. Fourteen percent (14%) believe it would have no impact and 11% are notsure. These figures are little changed from a few weeks ago. At the same time, however, 52% believe it would beeven more dangerous to raise the debt ceiling without making significant cuts in government spending. Thirty-seven percent (37%) take the opposite view and believe a government default would be more dangerous.
Which gap is greater: Quinnipiac's numbers vs. Rasmussen's, or Harry Reid vs. Eric Cantor? Ann Coulter seems pretty damn dyspeptic over this whole mess, but thinks the McConnell plan could be the GOP's (short-term) salvation:
But now, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has checkmated the Democrats. He has proposed a bill that will allow Obama to raise the debt ceiling three times, up to $2.4 trillion, over the next 18 months, but only provided Obama proposes equivalent cuts in spending each time. Finally, the Democrats will be forced to pony up spending cuts -- or default on the debt and crash the economy.
Contrary to some hysterical Republicans, McConnell's bill does not forfeit any of Congress' authority: The House and Senate will still have to decide whether to accept Obama's proposed cuts when they write their appropriations bills. But we will finally get some proposed cuts to federal programs from Obama, and not more nonsense about theoretical savings from "investing" in our children's future with additional spending on Pell grants and prenatal counseling. McConnell's deal cleanly takes the debt ceiling issue off the Republicans' back and puts it on the president's back. Either the Democrats tell us what they'll cut or they'll have to admit: "We will never cut anything. Everything Ann Coulter says about us is true!"
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography