Opinion Brief

The House's 'phony' debt-ceiling vote: A win for the GOP?

On Tuesday, 97 Dems supported the idea of raising the debt ceiling without any spending cuts, saddling their party with a politically unpopular vote

House Republicans resoundingly defeated a bill on Tuesday that would have raised the federal debt limit with no strings attached — something President Obama has long requested. Though House Democrats split, with 97 in favor, and 82 siding with the GOP, the outcome of Tuesday's vote was never in doubt. The Republican majority was dead-set against raising the nation's legal borrowing limit without simultaneously agreeing to major spending cuts. Indeed, for the GOP, this "phony vote" was all about forcing Democrats to take the politically unpopular stand of greenlighting more borrowing, says Elspeth Reeve at The Atlantic Wire, and then using that outcome to craft "talking points on cable chat shows and campaign commercials." Did the GOP score a victory on that front?

The GOP played Democrats for fools: What an embarrassing blow to Obama, says Moe Lane at RedState. It was "highly entertaining" watching 82 House Democrats, including many who had signed a letter "requesting... precisely this vote," side with the GOP. It's good to know that when it comes to fiscal courage, Democrats "will cave.""House votes against raising debt ceiling, 318-97"

This "joke" vote could easily backfire: Nobody took this partisan hackery seriously, says Jed Lewison at Daily Kos. Even "Republicans privately assured their corporate backers that the vote was a charade," and the Chamber of Commerce winked that "Wall Street is in on the joke." But the joke will be on the Chamber if it can't "talk Republicans off the ledge" before the U.S. defaults on its debts in early August — a catastrophe that would surely create chaos in the markets."House rejects Republican debt limit ploy, Chamber calls GOP bill a 'joke'"

The big losers are voters: Republicans may talk fiscal discipline, says John Nichols in The Nation, but this theater was all about taking the economy "hostage" to force Democrats and an unwilling public to accept the Right's flailing plan to "gut Medicare and Social Security." Those 82 Democrats should think hard before "aiding and abetting the Republican messaging scheme" again."GOP debt-ceiling gambit is... scheme to gut Medicare, Social Security"

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