Party Fissures Are Showing in Debt Limit Talks

The GOP and Obama are both trying to sell a deal to their parties

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Republican leaders are essentially begging the rank-and-file please, pretty please, don't destroy the American economy. The House GOP sat through a 90-minute closed-door meeting Thursday in which four Wall Street executives explained that blowing the deadline to raise the federal debt ceiling would throw the bond market into a "death spiral," Politico's Marin Cogan reports. Iconic anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist took to the op-ed pages of The New York Times to reiterate that allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire--a potential feature of a debt deal--would not violate his group's pledge, signed by nearly all Republican lawmakers, that vows to never raise taxes. Time's Jay Newton-Small argues that the next 96 hours could fracture the party, as its members are presented with two options: a bill that is ideologically pure--no tax hikes--but cannot pass, and a bill that has a lot of spending cuts plus some tax increases and could pass the Senate.

In fact, one of the biggest hurdles to passing a deal, NBC News' First Read writes, is soothing a lot of egos. If the Obama-Boehner "grand bargain" passes, there are two winners: Obama and Boehner. They both look like historic statesmen. "But here’s the deal: No one else wins," First Read says. "Not Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats who want to take back that chamber. Ditto Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans."
GOP leaders are selling the deal to their caucus by noting that this deal would have spending cuts up front, First Read reports. That might help them learn to live with other features of the bargain that they won't like at all. The New York TimesCark Hulse and Jackie Calmes report that Obana and Boehner pair want the tax code and entitlements overhauled next year. If Congress fails to do so, Obama wants a measure that would trigger tax hikes on people earning $250,000 or more. Boehner, on the other hand, would want a trigger repealing a central part of Obama's health care law--the mandate that everyone buy insurance. But if Congress pulls through on reform, the Bush tax cuts and the health care law remain unchanged.
All this wooing of Republicans comes at a cost: Democrats. The Los Angeles Times' Lisa Mascaro and Christi Parsons report that when Senate Democrats got word of what Obama was negotiating, the reaction was "volcanic," in the words of Sen. Barbara Mikulski. That part that Republican leaders are selling to their rank-and-file? That spending cuts come first, revenue increases later? Democrats don't like that one bit. "If you're doing any grand bargain, that has to include a revenue component that would have to be guaranteed and locked in," Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen told the Times.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.