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MILLER: Conservatives jump ship

GOP stalwarts refuse debt-ceiling deal without real change

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Congressional conservatives are unhappy with proposed debt-ceiling plans that do little to stem the flow of federal red ink. On Tuesday, they proposed their own solution for reassuring the markets and public that essential services will be covered in the event the government's borrowing authority is not increased by Aug. 2.

So far, President Obama has seen no reason to make any real attempts at cutting spending. In his prime-time speech to the nation on Monday night, Mr. Obama said the sky would fall unless rank-and-file Republicans give up their demand for fiscal responsibility.

"We would not have enough money to pay all of our bills - bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans' benefits," Mr. Obama claimed. "Our country's Triple A credit rating would be downgraded. ... Interest rates would skyrocket on credit cards, mortgages and car loans. ... We would risk sparking a deep economic crisis - one caused almost entirely by Washington."

That's Mr. Obama's version of a confidence-inspiring fireside chat.

Fiscal hawks in the House and Senate aren't going to let the White House bully them into a bad deal. On Tuesday, Sen. Pat Toomey offered a bill that would prioritize spending to minimize the disruption to debt service, Social Security checks and military pay in the event a debt deal isn't reached by next week.

"There are far more than enough resources for the administration to make these payments and, frankly, many others," said the Pennsylvania Republican. Already, 31 senators are on board for the Full Faith and Credit Act.

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC), said the bill crafted by House Speaker John A. Boehner does not have the 218 votes needed for House passage. Democratic leaders are whipping against Mr. Boehner's bill merely because it's bad politics for Mr. Obama. Mr. Jordan is against it because the House already passed a superior alternative - the "Cut, Cap and Balance" bill.

By the RSC's calculations, Mr. Boehner's legislation cuts an insignificant $7 billion from 2012 outlays, and there's no way to guarantee any of the other promised reductions would ever happen. He also has a problem with the new "super committee," comprised of six Democrats and six Republicans, that would have the power to bring tax increases to a quick vote in Congress.

The Republican leadership isn't keen on the conservative proposal. When asked by The Washington Times about Mr. Toomey's bill, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl cast doubt that a vote would happen.

"We're kinda down into the countdown time now, without a lot of time for extraneous legislation to be brought to the floor," said the Arizona Republican. "I don't mean to put it down when I say extraneous, but it doesn't go right to the point of how we're going to get the situation resolved."

Republican leaders shouldn't be intimidated by the president's scare tactics. Mr. Obama's sole goal is ensuring he gets his outsized allowance next month. He's likely to get it, unless the GOP takes default, seniors and troops off the table.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.

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