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Why Republicans don’t fear a debt default

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The United States is now two weeks away from defaulting on its debt, a scenario cast as something close to financial armageddon by everyone from President Obama to Warren Buffett.

But, a majority of Republicans in a new Pew Research Center poll don’t seem concerned. At all.

Fifty-three percent of self-identified Republicans (and 65 percent of those who say they support the tea party) said the country can go past the deadline without any serious economic consequences.

“This is a case where the messenger has become the message,” explained Republican pollster Chris Wilson. “The two groups — Wall Street and the federal government — pushing the narrative that not raising the debt ceiling would be a catastrophe are two groups that an overwhelming majority of Americans don’t trust these days.”

To back up his point, Wilson noted that Gallup’s most recent “confidence” index showed that just 12 percent of people trust Congress and less than one in five (19 percent) trust big business.

And, in a new Washington Post/Pew poll, not a single one of the major political figures involved in the debt-ceiling negotiations had the trust of a majority of Americans to do the right thing.

Cutting through all the numbers, the reality for many Republicans is that they simply don’t believe that we are on the verge of crisis, and it’s virtually impossible — given their distrust of the country’s major institutions — for anyone or anything to convince them otherwise.

It’s not hard to understand then the rapid rise in the 2012 Republican presidential field of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who not only has pledged in a television ad currently running in Iowa that she won’t vote to increase the debt ceiling under any circumstances, but has also said publicly that “we need to tell Wall Street, we need to tell Main Street, we need to not scare the American people.”

Christian Ferry, a Republican strategist who served as deputy campaign manager for Arizona Sen. John McCain’s presidential bid in 2008, said that GOPers are fed up with what they believe to be empty warning from politicians about impending doom in the country.

“Republican voters held their nose and swallowed [the Troubled Asset Relief Program] at the end of the Bush administration and then watched powerlessly as Obama and Democrat[ic] majorities sunk us further into debt with what they see as failed and flawed policies,” said Ferry. “They are ‘mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.’”

That attitude, of course, gives Republican politicians little political incentive to find compromise before the Aug. 2 deadline. (A new CBS/New York Times poll showed just 33 percent of Republicans supportive of a debt ceiling increase, although that number has increased from16 percent in June.)

And, if the party’s leaders — men like House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — do cut some kind (or, really, any kind) of deal to avoid the alleged consequences of default, they stand to be pilloried by many within their party who think the debt deadline amounts to Linus’ search for the “Great Pumpkin”.

Optimism seems to have ticked up for a compromise in the last 48 hours. But, a look at polling data alone should temper that good feeling — at least somewhat.

Bachmann has severe headaches: The Daily Caller is out with a real talker this morning. The crux of the report: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) suffers from severe headaches, she has been hospitalized as a result on a few occasions, and she requires lots of medication to deal with it.

Former staffers, speaking to the Daily Caller anonymously, said they are scared about what kind of impact the condition would have on Bachmann if she were to become president — hinting that she could be incapacitated during crucial moments.

It should be noted here that Bachmann has left behind some disgruntled former staff. It’s not clear whether those speaking anonymously have some sort of ax to grind.

Either way, though, it’s likely to be something she has to address in more detail.

Sessions says GOP will gain seats: With his Democratic counterpart predicting Democrats may retake the majority in 2012, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions is not to be outdone.

Sessions tells Fix friends Salena Zito and Mike Wereschagin of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he thinks his party will win 16 more seats in 2012, expanding on its current 48-seat majority.

“We’re on offense,” Sessions said.

Winning 16 more seats would be a pretty big win for Sessions, given how few genuinely competitive districts are currently in Democratic hands.

First Wisconsin recall race today: The first off nine recall elections will be held in Wisconsin today, with state Sen. Dave Hansen (D) defending his seat against Republican David VanderLeest.

VanderLeest is not considered a serious candidate — he was the default nominee after a state House member failed to turn in enough valid signatures — so a loss by Hansen would send serious shockwaves through the state legislature.

Two other Democrats and six Republicans face their own recalls next month.

The recalls were triggered after a contentious battle over the collective bargaining rights of unions.

Fixbits:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) making more calls in Iowa.

Perry clarifies that he wasn’t suggesting that God was calling him to run for president.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) releases his plan to cut $9 trillion over the next decade.

Bachmann calls the Ames straw poll “ground zero.”

With state Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R) out of the race, FreedomWorks backs former state representative Adam Hasner (R) to face Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

Former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack (D) launches her campaign against Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

Richard Land chides Herman Cain over Cain’s contention that local communities could ban the construction of mosques.

Cain says Mitt Romney can’t win in the South because of his Mormon religion.

Romney assures Iowans that they will see him.

Embattled Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.) is apparently the only member of the Florida GOP delegation who won’t be at an upcoming NRCC fundraiser in Miami.

A GOP businessman considers a campaign against newly vulnerable Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.).

Must-reads:

Lugar bucks Mourdock’s July swoon” — Brian Howey, Howey Political Report

GOP contenders: All together now, I pledge ...” — AP

Tim Pawlenty’s secret weapon: his wife, Mary” — Amy Gardner, Washington Post

S.C. donors cool thus far to GOP presidential candidates” — Adam Beam, The State

More on PostPolitics.com

Debt ceiling crisis still eludes compromise

2Chambers: Nearly 30 percent of House skips votes as debt-limit deadline looms

Poll: Little confidence in leaders to deal with debt issue

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