Conservative Groups Pressure GOP to Oppose McConnell-Reid Debt Plan
Several conservative groups oppose the debt ceiling plan proposed by Sens. Harry Reid, left, and Mitch McConnell. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.
Just as the McConnell-Reid backup plan on the debt ceiling is gaining steam in the Senate as the likeliest outcome that avoids default, conservative groups are ramping up pressure to take it down.
The Hill’s Alexander Bolton has the details.
“A coalition of conservative groups claiming to represent ‘millions of Americans’ has sent a letter to GOP lawmakers blasting a fallback plan to raise the national debt limit.
“The scathing criticism of the plan, unveiled last week by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), bolstered conservative senators who have voiced their opposition.
“‘We write in strong opposition to Sen. Mitch McConnell’s ‘contingency plan’ to raise the debt ceiling and pledge the use of every tool at our coalition’s disposal to see to its defeat,’ the groups wrote in an open letter to Republican lawmakers dated July 18.”
POLITICO provides a friendly link to the letter here.
Among the groups signing on to the letter are Club for Growth, RedState.com and FreedomWorks. These organizations aggressively sought and received endorsements from Tea Party-backed House Republican freshmen, who helped the party to the majority, and many others inside the House GOP conference.
Republican leaders in the House are hoping to let off some of the steam that’s been building up over the debt by giving their members a chance to vote on the “cut, cap and balance” plan, which would immediately cut federal spending back to 2008 levels, cap future federal spending at 18 percent of GDP (far below the current 24 percent) and pass a balanced budget amendment.
A separate vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution has been postponed until next week.
The White House has pushed back hard against the significant domestic spending cuts that would be required in the “cut, cap and balance” plan and have dubbed it the “Ryan budget on steroids.”
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and his leadership team hope that passing this bill in the House Tuesday will provide both a rallying cry for their members and a dose of political reality that a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president will not allow it to become law. The leaders’ goal is to clear a path for something that will eventually pass prior to the Aug. 2 deadline to raise the debt limit and avoid default.
With all the press attention focused on what the House Republicans can pass, start watching for the spotlight to move to House Democrats. The minority party may have to do most of the heavy lifting. If Rep. Boehner loses 60 percent of his conference on any debt ceiling hike vote/deal, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., will have to supply roughly 75 votes from their side of the aisle to get any bill to the president’s desk.
New USA TODAY/Gallup numbers show similar findings to other recent polls depicting an American public frustrated with the way Washington works. As with other recent surveys, Republicans are getting the toughest reviews from the public on their positioning during the debt ceiling negotiations, but President Obama and congressional Democrats don’t have a whole heckuva lot to be writing home about either.
“Half of those surveyed in a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll say President Obama and Congress are doing a worse job than their predecessors in dealing with the nation’s problems. Four in 10 call it the worst they’ve seen in their lifetimes.
“At least two-thirds say congressional Republicans and Democrats put their own political interests ahead of the country’s best interests. Just 7% see both sides as negotiating in good faith.
“Obama fares better on that question, though he scores only an even split between those who say he’s protecting his own interests and those who say he’s looking out for the nation.”
WARREN’S NEXT STEP
Elizabeth Warren plans to return home to Massachusetts in the coming weeks after being passed over to head the new consumer agency she helped create. On Monday, she refused to rule out returning to Washington next year as a senator from the Bay State.
Warren shed very little light on her future with MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell.
“Massachusetts does beckon in the sense that it’s my home and I need to go home,” Warren said. “I’ll do more thinking then, but I need to do that thinking not from Washington; I need to go home.”
In fact, Warren told ABC News’ Jake Tapper that her first order of business after leaving Washington would be to take her “grandkids and grandnieces and nephews to Legoland.”
The Boston Globe’s Noah Bierman reports Warren will spend early August considering a possible challenge to Republican Sen. Scott Brown.
“Her plans are being closely watched by state and national Democrats, who have yet to coalesce around a candidate,” writes Bierman. “The declared candidates, with the exception of Alan Khazei, are having trouble raising money.”
Warren is scheduled to return to Harvard this fall after spending the past year putting in place the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but her role as a leading consumer advocate and her understanding of the financial crisis could make her an attractive candidate to Massachusetts Democrats.
With Democrats defending nearly two dozen Senate seats in 2012, Massachusetts is seen as one of the few pick-up opportunities for the party next year, although flipping the seat blue will be no easy task with Sen. Brown’s war chest reportedly in the neighborhood of $10 million.
Still, Warren — or whomever Democrats ultimately nominate — would have the added benefit of President Obama at the top of the ticket in a reliably blue state when it comes to presidential elections.
LUGAR BUYS TV TIME
Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., has $3.5 million in the bank and he’s not afraid to use it.
POLITICO’s David Catanese reports the six-term senator will begin airing television ads across the Hoosier State this week, an indication he does not intend to take lightly his primary challenge from Indiana state treasurer Richard Mourdock.
“According to a source who tracks ad buys, Lugar is slated to go up on television in Indianapolis beginning this Wednesday through July 29 — a 10-day run. While the size of the buy is not yet discernible, it’s expected to be a statewide purchase, according to the tracker.”
Sen. Lugar reported raising $900,000 for his re-election in the the second quarter of the year, triple the total brought in by Mourdock over the same time. When it came to cash-on-hand at the end of June, Sen. Lugar’s $3.5 million far outpaced Mourdock’s $213,000.
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