Democrats aren't the only ones fighting House Speaker John Boehner over the debt ceiling — he's facing withering attacks from the Tea Party wing of the GOP, too. On Wednesday, Boehner bluntly told reluctant members of his party to "get your ass in line" and support his plan to cut the deficit by more than $2 trillion in exchange for raising the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. (The government has less than a week to hike the federal borrowing limit before it runs out of cash to meet many of its financial obligations.) Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the grassroots Tea Party Patriots, says Tea Partiers want far deeper cuts than Boehner is offering, and Tea Party Nation leader Judson Phillips says if Boehner fails to deliver, he should be replaced by a "Tea Party Speaker of the House." Who's to blame for this split on the Right?
Tea Partiers are acting like petulant children: Tea Partiers are going to force Democrats and moderate Republicans to be the grownups, says The Boston Globe in an editorial, and "make a necessary but politically unappetizing decision" to raise the debt ceiling. Then the Tea Party will complain about it. That's how this right-wing movement operates. The Tea Party doesn't have enough power to pass its agenda "through the normal democratic processes," so it's forcing a crisis to make voters mad at its rivals.
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Don't blame the Tea Party. Boehner's plan is weak: The Tea Party didn't support all those Republicans in 2010 to watch them spend the nation into the poor house, says John Hayward at Human Events. Tea Partiers are out to change a broken system. Boehner's debt plan is far better than the Democrats', but it's still too meagre to make a difference, merely "the 'best' that the less irresponsible half of the two-party system can do, at a moment of supreme crisis, when the entire country is finally paying attention to madcap government spending." And that's simply not enough.
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Regardless, this GOP split only helps Democrats: By denying Boehner their votes, says Carolyn Lochhead at the San Francisco Chronicle, the House GOP freshmen who rode in on the Tea Party wave might be hurting their own cause. With his party split, the speaker will have no choice but to make "some weak, panicked compromise" with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in order to win enough Democratic votes to pass something before disaster strikes. And the Tea Partiers who divided the GOP "will have sacrificed a rare chance" to do something bigger.
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