By David Mark
July 27, 2011
House Republicans should back Speaker John Boehner’s debt ceiling bill, says Grover Norquist, a key figure in the conservative movement.
The proposal, calling for $1 trillion in budget and spending cuts, is proving a major source of contention among House Republicans. House GOP leaders are rewriting the plan after the Congressional Budget Office reported cuts would be $150 billion lower than expected.
The bill, which President Barack Obama has pledged to veto, is still worthy of support, said Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.
“Boehner’s plan is the only way to bring spending down by the same amount the debt ceiling increases – without raising taxes,” Norquist said Wednesday in POLITICO’s Arena. “It is a tremendous win for the forces of limited government.”
“It is not Appomattox. It is Bull Run,” he went on. “It is the beginning skirmish in a long struggle to undo the damage of the last three years in overspending and government growth.”
But Bill Burton, a former Obama White House deputy press secretary and now senior strategist with the advocacy group Priorities USA Action, mocked Boehner’s efforts.
“The absolute lack of control he has demonstrated over his caucus – especially the freshmen – has not exactly demonstrated strength,” Burton said in Arena. “The job of speaker takes guts – John Boehner hasn’t demonstrated that he has any.”
The bitter debt ceiling debate also had some former elected officials urging compromise.
“I understand that these tea party members see this as their moment of greatest leverage in the deficit and spending debates, but they have made their point,” said former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, a moderate Republican. “It’s time to end this debacle. Raise the debt ceiling with all the provisos that are similar in the Boehner and Reid plans, but not with the six-month time frame as Boehner has proposed.”
Former Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), himself an object of intense lobbying and intra-party pressure during last year’s health care debate, suggested Boehner’s efforts are futile.
“Speaker Boehner’s plan is not the magic elixir and will not have bipartisan support. It is very doubtful that the speaker’s plan will receive the support of any of the House Democrats,” Stupak said. “It will not be taken up by the Senate; and key conservative GOP groups will not support the Boehner two-step approach.”