To no one’s surprise, most of the press briefing at the White House yesterday was devoted to the pending vote in Congress on raising the debt ceiling. As he has often done in the past few weeks, Press Secretary Jay Carney issued warnings about calamitous developments that he feels would arise from a failure of the House to vote on lifting the debt ceiling immediately.
Carney’s latest warnings come as Republican House members increasingly say they will oppose raising the debt ceiling unless commitments on major spending cuts are first made by the administration. This “no unless” sentiment is particularly strong among the 87 Republican freshmen who were elected last fall. Earlier on Tuesday, freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R.-Ill.) told HUMAN EVENTS, “I don’t know of a single Republican freshman who is going to vote to raise the debt ceiling this evening.”
Other freshman GOPers have made the case that with Treasury Secretary Tim Geitner already taking steps to deal with situations if Congress refuses to vote to raise the debt ceiling, major functions of government such as providing Social Security and national defense will continue until the issue of spending cuts is resolved.
Predicting to HUMAN EVENTS earlier this month that “the President will not get a clean debt ceiling vote,” freshman Rep. Dan Webster (R.-Fla.) said, “I don’t buy ‘the sky is falling’ argument.”
Another freshman Republican lawmaker, Bill Huizenga of Michigan, said that if “the vote is against raising the debt ceiling, the effect will be different in two months from what it is in two weeks.”
HUMAN EVENTS posed this case of these and other GOP freshman to Jay Carney on Tuesday.
“Many of the freshmen Republicans in the House who are driving the no vote have suggested that this is only a preliminary vote, and that going a few weeks before there is a final vote will just lead to the spending cuts they seek,” I said. Huizenga of Michigan for one responded, “There’s a big difference between two weeks and two months.” What do you say to criticism such as that?
“Well, I’m not sure I understand,” replied the President’s top spokesman. “I mean, we—what the difference between two weeks and two months being …”
I began to explain that if “there’s not a clean vote tomorrow, and then have another vote on it later on …”
But Carney, again, jumped into his Armageddon response. And this time, took aim at Huizenga, Webster and other House freshmen. As he said, “Look, all I can say is that the deficit—the debt ceiling needs to be raised by something close to a date certain, as we all know. Not doing that would have calamitous, catastrophic, disastrous effects on the economy. I don’t think—there may be a handful of people who just disbelieve the overwhelming consensus opinion about what would happen if the United States of America defaulted on its obligations. I think the overwhelming opinion is correct, and it’s the opinion we share, and that ultimately the elected members of Congress are here representing their constituents in order to ensure economic growth and job creation. And to do things that have the opposite effect I don’t think is—it’s obviously not good policy, and it’s also not good politics.”