Despite the triumphalism expressed by Congressional leaders and the president last night, open hostility to the bipartisan debt compromise is swelling on both ends of the political spectrum. Let's start on the Right, where lawmakers from Marco Rubio to Jason Chaffetz and Mike Lee are already forming a "no" queue. The Heritage Foundation's "Morning Bell" lays out the strongest comprehensive case against the bill I've read:
Put the security of the nation at risk or raise taxes. This is the sour “deal” liberal lawmakers are offering in exchange for insufficient spending cuts, according to reports of this weekend’s debt negotiations in Washington. The framework that Republicans and Democrats are close to approving would raise the debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and get Obama and congressional Democrats past their target date: Election Day 2012. In return for this generous political cover, Democrats would agree to a modest $1 trillion in supposed cuts spread out over 10 years; $350 billion of those “upfront” savings come from gutting national security resources.
A trillion dollars over 10 years is not sufficient to impress credit rating agencies, which have threatened to downgrade America’s credit status unless Congress enacts real measures to reform spending and lower the deficit. In fact, on Friday, Moody’s announced that neither the Boehner plan nor the Reid plan had sufficient cuts, saying: “Reductions of the magnitude now being proposed, if adopted, would likely lead Moody’s to adopt a negative outlook on the AAA rating.” The current plan does not improve upon either of those earlier plans. In addition to the $1 trillion, the framework sets up a “special” congressional committee that would seek $1.4 trillion in “deficit reduction” by the end of 2011. Of course, for liberals, “deficit reduction” is synonymous with “higher taxes.”
Congressional conservatives fought hard to drive down spending toward a balanced budget, while protecting our defenses, and without raising taxes. The Ryan budget plan and the Cut, Cap and Balance Act were good steps in that direction. But the final deal, driven by liberal leaders on Capitol Hill and in the White House, sets up America for the worst possible outcome later this year—both job-killing taxes and safety-risking defense cuts—while entitlement spending goes on and on.
This isn't just a Tea Party phenomenon; some elements of the GOP establishment are also opposed. Lindsey Graham says he can't back the bargain "in good conscience." Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney has announced he "cannot support" the product of negotiations about which he's been mighty quiet. I received this statement from his campaign earlier today:
“As president, my plan would have produced a budget that was cut, capped and balanced – not one that opens the door to higher taxes and puts defense cuts on the table. President Obama’s leadership failure has pushed the economy to the brink at the eleventh hour and 59th minute. While I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama’s lack of leadership has placed Republican Members of Congress in, I personally cannot support this deal.”
The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol says he's in the same boat as Romney:
I’m pretty much where Mitt Romney is on the deal to raise the debt ceiling: On the one hand, it “opens the door to higher taxes and puts defense cuts on the table.” On the other hand, “I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama’s lack of leadership has placed Republican Members of Congress in.” Net: “I personally cannot support this deal”—but, as is implied by the tone and brevity of Romney’s statement, I wouldn’t denounce members of Congress who support it.
The Club for Growth and Heritage's political appendage have both announced they will score the final vote, and are urging members to vote "no." If it seems opposition among conservatives is intense, witness the conniptions occurring on the Left. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is angrily denouncing the plan as an "abject surrender" by President Obama:
For the deal itself, given the available information, is a disaster, and not just for President Obama and his party. It will damage an already depressed economy; it will probably make America’s long-run deficit problem worse, not better; and most important, by demonstrating that raw extortion works and carries no political cost, it will take America a long way down the road to banana-republic status.
Congressional liberals are equally livid, as House Progressives are vowing to scotch the deal. The Congressional Black Caucus has been especially vocal in opposing the deal. John Conyers sounded suitably miffed when he called for mass protests in front of the White House, but it was CBC chief Emanuel Cleaver who churned out the soundbyte of the week:
Up next: Joe Biden is meeting with House Democrats this afternoon to help sell the deal in advance of a vote, which could come this evening. Down the hall, Harry Reid says he'd also prefer to tee-up a Senate vote for today, but can't commit to it. There are, of course, many supporters of the deal, as well. We'll address their arguments in an upcoming post.
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
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