Retreat, but no surrender?
WILLIAMSBURG, Va.—Whether they are senior Republicans such as seven term Rep. Lee Terry (Neb.) or one of the 34 freshmen such as newly-minted Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (Mich.), they all agree that before they vote on raising the debt ceiling, they want major concessions from President Obama—and a lot of them.
Two days after the president warned at his news conference that the U.S. could become a “deadbeat nation” if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling in a few weeks, House Republicans gathered at their retreat made it very clear to Human Events their votes to do so would not come easily.
“President Obama spent us so much further into debt, so I say let President Obama figure out how to get the votes to raise the debt ceiling,” Terry said. An opponent of the tax bill enacted by Congress on Dec. 31, 2012, the Omaha-area lawmaker explained that “I opposed it because the ratio of new spending to spending cuts was 38-to-1. Before we consider raising the debt ceiling, we should insist on a ratio of new spending to spending cuts of 1-to-1.”
Bentivolio, teacher and U.S. Army veteran who is holding office for the first time, said his top concern was that “we can’t continue borrowing the way we are. That’s obvious.” As to what would it would take for the administration to secure his vote on the debt ceiling, the Michiganian told Human Events : “They would have to support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. I know there are a lot more things that can be done, but that amendment is a good start.”
These were some of the ideas being discussed by Republican lawmakers at the early morning session at the Kingsmill Resort, with much of their dialogue focusing on the debt ceiling vote—anticipated in March—and what to do about it.
“And I was glad to see [House Budget Committee Chairman] Paul Ryan [Wis.], [Republican Study Committee Chairman] Steve Scalise [La.], and [Ohio Rep.] Jim Jordan all taking a leading role in this,” Rep. Joe Wilson (S.C.) told Human Events. Wilson himself said that one “good idea” in return for voting to extend the debt ceiling was a “1 percent across the board cut in all spending.”
When I asked the House Armed Services Committee Member and South Carolina Army National Guard colonel if that cut included defense spending, he replied: “Yes—ouch!”