"the midterm electorate is much different than the one that votes in presidential elections. The former is older, whiter, and more conservative. The latter is younger, browner, and more liberal. It’s that difference which drove the Republican gains of 2010, and which gave Obama a huge advantage in last year’s presidential election. Even if Republicans provoke a debt ceiling crisis and destroy any remaining credibility they enjoy, it remains true that they’ll enter 2014 with a favorable electorate on their side. And given the extent to which voters tend to support the same party, regardless of circumstances, odds are good that Republicans won’t lose any of their most reliable voters.
Which is to say this: Regardless of what they do, Republicans will be in decent shape next year. They can certainly improve their image by working with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling, but if they don’t, the actual hit to their electoral standing will be modest."
I'm not so sure about that. The latest from Jon Cornyn seems to belie that:
"The Senate’s No. 2 Republican is walking back his threat to use the debt ceiling and other fiscal deadlines to force President Obama to accede to deep spending cuts."
“We will raise the debt ceiling. We’re not going to default on our debt,” Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) said in an interview with the Houston Chronicle editorial board published Thursday. “I will tell you unequivocally, we’re not going to default.”
"That’s a dramatic change in tone from just two weeks ago, when Cornyn wrote an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle pointedly threatening not to raise the debt limit or fund the government unless Obama agrees to scale back Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security."
“Republicans are more determined than ever to implement the spending cuts and structural entitlement reforms that are needed to secure the long-term fiscal integrity of our country,” he wrote.
“The coming deadlines will be the next flashpoints in our ongoing fight to bring fiscal sanity to Washington. It may be necessary to partially shut down the government in order to secure the long-term fiscal well being of our country, rather than plod along the path of Greece, Italy and Spain. President Obama needs to take note of this reality and put forward a plan to avoid it immediately.”
"The shift comes amid a dramatic sea change in elite conservative and GOP opinion about the need to raise the debt ceiling by early March or default on the country’s obligations. With President Obama and Democrats holding firm in their refusal to make any concessions, Republican leaders and influential conservatives increasingly see their posture as infeasible, if not dangerous to their party’s viability."
"At the House GOP’s annual retreat this week, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was urging members to “recognize the realities” of divided government."
"Asked about the op-ed and his apparent change of heart, Cornyn told the Chronicle editorial board that it was simply a negotiating stance."
“You sometimes try to inject a little doubt in your negotiating partner about where you’re going to go,” he said, “but I would tell you unequivocally that we’re not going to default.”
If the GOP is in "decent shape no matterw what" how do you explain all this backpedalling? More and more GOPers are insisting that the debt ceiling must be raised-and will be. If there was no worries for 2014, it's not clear why they wouldn't go the obstruction route. They must realize that no matter how safe the district going to far could hurt them.
We are seeing a lot of GOP backpedaling the last few days. They are accepting that that the Hastert Rule is not going to work during ths Congress-as opposed to the last.
"Louisiana Rep. John Fleming is the latest House Republican to call for providing President Obama short term debt limit increases — if only so the GOP can keep hounding Democrats about government spending for the next two years. But as much as he’d like to extract a price from Obama, he subtly explained to reporters how Republicans might ultimately let their hostage go."
"First, the demand: “I think the Republicans would have a real problem giving the president a clean debt ceiling, even … short term,” he said. “Maybe some would do it, but I think to get a majority of the majority vote, I think it’s impossible.”
"But you should also know: “I think that the majority of the majority Hastert rule comes out of a time when we had a Republican president. When you have a Democrat president that’s a very hard thing to achieve sometimes — and not necessarily important.”
"Really then the next several weeks are about laying the ground work for Republicans to ditch the Hastert rule before the country’s borrowing authority lapses. One way to do that, he explained: “We could pass it [a debt limit bill] from the House to the Senate with what we want, and then the Senate could always revise and send it back and who knows, maybe there’d be enough Democrat votes to get it passed.”
"And while that’s happening, Republicans can put up a more legitimate fight over the sequester and expiring federal appropriations."
A few points strike me. For one, I have my doubts that the GOP House would even pass a debt ceiling bill with lots of entitlement cuts as that would give them full ownership of cuts they want, but are very unpopular. If you notice, their strategy remains what it was during the fiscal cliff: 'You first, Mr. President.'
Secondly, they are now starting to see the real leverage as the sequester cuts rather than threats as Cornyn tried before of defaults and government shutdowns. This is a recurrent pattern as it's what happened during the fiscal cliff fight. Then it was supposed to be the debt ceiling that would get them their "leverage." Now it's the sequester. I'll doubt they'll get what they want either-for one thing the really hate the military cuts.
I think the GOP will spend the next few months looking for this ever elusive leverage until it dawns on them: they don't have any. They're in the position that the Dems were in the 80s with Reagan: it will be on them to not be seen as obstructing the President's priorities.
As to Boule's claim I understand the premise of how the GOP has safe districts in the House-thanks to gerrymandering that they have blatantly bragged about.
Still if they are so safe why are they continuing to cave to the President? In fact since I started this post they now seem to be saying they're going to raise it-probably for free.
To an extent it's true there are three parties in Congress: Democrats, Republicans, and the Tea Party. On most important issues the Dems will pass it in the Senate and then ram it through the House with just enough Republicans to make up for the Tea Party. Still, there were 85 Republicans to support the fiscal cliff deal and 32 for Sandy relief, which will be more than enough.
With the demise of the Hastert Rule the new reality may be a Boehner-Pelosi alliance. Maybe there are certain Tea Party districts where there is nothing to fear but what about more mainstream Republican districts?
Not raising the debt ceiling-for any reason isn't popular with anyone, even Republican voters. Obama's plan for universal background checks is popular with everyone, Republicans, even NRA members.
In the end. nothing will save the GOP from the reality that elections have consequences?