According to a McClatchy report today, the members of the House GOP have split into two camps on the current budget deal, the flexible and the non-flexible.
On one side are the long-time Republican House members who see the president’s current deal, which gives them 80 percent of what they want, as a win that they should take and go home happy. On the other side are newer House members, including freshmen representatives of the Tea Party, for whom the closure of tax loopholes and other revenue generating measures are anathema, who believe that to compromise would be worse than letting the deal (and by extension, the world economy) go down in flames.
Freshman Representative Allen West of Florida wants to take bold action now to slash government funding and reduce the deficit without any new taxes. He says, “I didn’t come here to kick the can 10 years down the road.”
Whereas long-standing members of the House like California’s Dan Lungren, who first came to Congress in 1969, believe that a compromise can be reached and that Congress can still “work”.
In press conferences and news releases the two sides rarely openly clash, but behind the scenes, the schism is having a profound effect on how the Party will proceed with regards to the looming budget deal and the need to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion debt limit. The deadline for the debt limit decision is August 3 and no resolution to the current standoff is in sight. Economists and others warn of potential economic catastrophe if the United States is forced to default on its debts.
The two sides have their avatars in Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia). Boehner has been in the House since the early 90′s and wants to see a deal go through and has shown a willingness to compromise with Democrats and the president.
Cantor, however, has been an obstreperous presence during budget negotiations, showing a hot-headed style and an unwillingness to budge on taxes or other ideological issues. Some analysts see the division as a line between those House members elected before 1994 and those after. Boehner rode the tide of Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” into office and has perhaps seen in Gingrich’s abrupt rise and precipitous fall a blustering, ideological example of what not to do.
Seniority is important in the house and these pre-1994 Republicans run many of the Congressional committees. New members run the risk of alienating committee chairs and other House power brokers if they march out of step with the party.
Budget meetings and discussions will continue throughout the week as the August 3 deadline approaches.
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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