House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) withdrew from budget and debt-ceiling negotiations with the White House on Thursday, marking a "major turning point" in the ongoing talks. Politicians have been wrangling over a package of spending cuts and, possibly, tax increases to go along with a hike in the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. If America's legal borrowing limit isn't raised by early August, the country will default on its debt. Cantor says negotiators have reached an "impasse" on the issue of tax increases — and has passed the responsibility for solving that problem to President Obama and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). But why, exactly, did Cantor ditch these debt talks? (Watch an Bloomberg report about Cantor's decision.)
Cantor is just looking out for himself: The Virginia Republican "is putting personal power before country here, and in a very dangerous way," says Ezra Klein in The Washington Post. It's no coincidence that he "is fleeing the room now that the spending cuts have been chosen and the taxes have to be agreed to." Cantor doesn't want to risk angering the Tea Party, and he doesn't want his "fingerprints" on any deal that raises taxes.
"Why Eric Cantor won't make the budget deal"
And trying to pin down Obama: This move is about forcing "President Above-The-Fray" to engage in negotiations that have been led by Vice President Biden, says Allahpundit at Hot Air. Obama will "be more reluctant than congressional Democrats" to insist on "broad tax hikes," because he's got the 2012 election looming. Still, Cantor's walking away could backfire if no deal is reached. Obama could plausibly claim that a deal could have been sealed "if only those darned wingnuts would agree to raise taxes on rich people."
"Oh my: GOP pulls out of Biden's debt-ceiling talks"
This is all just mind-boggling political theater: Even if the Obama-Boehner meeting happens, Cantor's gambit raises lots of questions, says Felix Salmon at Reuters. If Boehner gives in on taxes, "will Cantor and the rest of the House Republicans fall loyally in line and vote for such things?" And if Boehner doesn't give in, whatever deficit-reduction plan gets done may not "have any credibility whatsoever in the markets," which know that "some kind of tax hikes" are needed. Sadly, this is all just political "Kabuki" that "seems to benefit no one at all."
"Adventures with debt-ceiling Kabuki, cont."