If Americans are unhappy about a federal budget which grows more out of balance by the day, and they are, it is becoming clear that they are also unhappy about the prospect of default and the seeming unwillingness of elected leaders to seek common ground.
A new poll released this week by the Washington Post shows that even Republicans think Republican members of Congress are too entrenched to be effective leaders on this matter.
From The Washington Post poll:
Majorities of Americans see both President Obama and congressional Republicans as not willing enough to compromise in their budget negotiations, but the public views the GOP leaders as particularly intransigent, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
There is also growing dissatisfaction among Republicans with the hard-line stance of their congressional representatives: Fifty-eight percent say their leaders are not doing enough to strike a deal, up from 42 percent in March.
While Republicans in Congress have remained united in their opposition to any tax increases, the poll finds GOP majorities favoring some of the specific changes advocated by the president, including higher income tax rates for the wealthiest Americans.
The Republican led House probably didn’t help its popularity any with Tuesday’s vote to require passage of a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget before raising the debt ceiling.
Said Rep. Diana DeGette about that vote:
“Today (Tuesday) House Republicans voted to erase a half-century of progress by imposing draconian cuts to end the trusted programs that have secured America’s seniors for decades. The vote was not only a distraction from finding realistic and reasonable solutions to the pressing issues at hand, but it actually brings us closer to a devastating default crisis. With less than two weeks until the US defaults on its bills, I call on the remaining moderates in the Republican caucus to join with moderate Democrats to raise the debt ceiling, so we can get back to work on creating jobs, responsibly reducing the deficit, and ensuring the long-term solvency of Medicare and Social Security.”
Freshman GOP Rep. Cory Gardner has a different opinion about how to handle the debt, and about that vote. From his web site:
Our nation is facing historic debt and high unemployment. Washington’s spending spree has to stop. An important step towards regaining the trust of the American people starts by placing this nation on a path to a balanced federal budget. Immediately after being sworn-in, I formally added my name as a co-sponsor of the Balanced Budget Amendment. This is the first step towards reducing the deficit, paying down the national debt and learning to live within our means. Specifically, the measure requires that federal spending be brought into line with federal revenues. It also requires that the President’s proposed budget to Congress be balanced when submitted.
All but the most die-hard Tea Parties seem at this juncture to feel that a default would be bad for the country.
The Senate’s Gang of Six may be offering the best chance at bipartisanship.
Said Congressman Jared Polis:
“I’m encouraged that the Senate’s bipartisan ‘Gang of Six’ has come forward with a serious and specific proposal to address the debt crisis. The Gang of Six proposal stands in stark contrast to the political gamesmanship taking place on the House floor and reflects the call of the American people for a balanced approach to reducing America’s debt and avoiding default. I applaud the Gang of Six for reflecting the reality that any serious debt reduction plan must address wasteful spending in all parts of the federal budget, including defense, and that we must increase revenues and avoid cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits.”
Senator Mark Udall also released a statement praising the Gang of Six’s plan to reduce the national debt by about $4 trillion. The group presented the proposal – based on the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson commission on reducing deficit reduction – to about 50 senators earlier this week, all of whom had previously expressed support for such an agreement. President has also Obama urged Congressional leaders to embrace the plan.
“This is a really positive development after several weeks of bad news and partisan bickering, where it looked like we wouldn’t be able to do more than kick the can down the road,” Udall said. “From the beginning, I’ve said that it is imperative that we work together on a plan to reduce our mounting debt while meeting our nation’s obligation to pay its bills. Now more than ever, Republicans and Democrats have to come together to find a balanced, bipartisan proposal that ensures our budget isn’t balanced solely on the backs of middle-class families.
“There’s no easy answer to reducing our debt and deficits, but this is the best plan to address our greatest national security challenge. I fought to create the Bowles-Simpson commission, and I’ve long held that its recommendations represent the kind of balanced proposal we need. We need to seize this opportunity, and each side needs to give. Even though I don’t agree with everything in this plan, I say, ‘Count me in.’ And I’ll do everything in my power to convince my colleagues to bring it to the floor for an up-or-down vote as soon as possible.”
Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet also weighed in on the Gang of Six plan to reduce the debt:
“In town halls across our state, Coloradans tell me they want a plan that materially reduces the deficit, shows we are all in it together and is bipartisan. The plan should also reassure the capital markets that the paper they’ve bought is worth what they paid for it and is not at risk.
“In our meeting, the ‘gang of six’ presented a plan that would meet those broad goals. Although nobody is going to agree with every single piece of this, or any comprehensive plan, the gang of six’s bipartisan proposal provides a path forward toward meaningful deficit reduction – in fact, it would reduce our deficit by close to $4 trillion. I urge my colleagues to review this plan and hope we can bring it to the Senate floor for debate and an up or down vote. I would support this plan if it were considered on the Senate floor.”
Washington Post has editorialized more than once in support of the Gang of Six’s work on the debt.
Of course, even at The Washington Post not everyone is enamored of the Gang of Six. Here columnist Marc Thiessen calls it a shell game.