WASHINGTON – Despite enthusiastic new support for freezing the debt limit from conservative talk stars Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and Sean Hannity, a new survey of House Republicans shows slippage for the position where it counts most.
Last month, as many as 142 House Republicans were on board which urges them to say no to any hike in the debt limit – an action that would require the federal government to stop borrowing immediately and make the biggest cuts in spending in the history of the country. The number was up from 122 Republicans only a few weeks before.
But most recent survey shows that number has slipped further away from the 218 votes needed to block a debt hike, as only 102 now maintain a firm resolve to vote against it, while another 53 say they would concede to a debt-limit raise if other legislative goals are met.
A spokesperson for Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., for example, told SOC the congressman would vote to raise the debt limit if it were coupled with "enforceable spending caps" and "meaningful budget reform."
"What we see in three successive head counts of House Republicans is that this issue of the debt limit is very volatile," said Ralph Lockwood "I remain confident, especially with the outspokenness of other high-profile conservatives, that this is very much a winnable fight. The problem clearly remains with the House leadership, which is inhibiting many members from taking a hard-line position.
"What we see happening in the last week strongly suggests House Republicans need to hear from constituents more than ever,"
Radio host Michael Savage blasted House Republicans for even considering allowing the Obama administration to pile up more debt:
"Where did all the 'fiscal conservatives' go?" Savage asked in an email to WND. "Of course we should not extend the debt limit! What kind of insanity is this?
"If a family is broke and dependent on loans," Savage continued, "what bank would extend a new credit line until the family 1) sold assets; 2) worked out a repayment plan for existing loans? We will become a bigger 'banana republic,' like Argentina 20 years ago, if we increase our national debt."
Over the last few weeks, commentators from television and newspapers, however, have been harshly critical of the plan to stop a debt-limit increase, painting the spending cuts that would then be needed to balance the budget as disastrous.
CNN's Eliot Spitzer, for example, earlier this month claimed in an interview with Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, that the necessary cuts to federal health-care spending amounted to "balancing the budget on the backs of the poor," while MSNBC's Chris Matthews even fumed on his "Hardball" program that cuts to Medicare would "kill half the people who watch this show."
WND contacted over a dozen of those House Republicans whose public positions have softened over the same time period – many who have said they would now vote to raise the limit if major cuts or spending caps were also enacted – but none would comment on the reason for their change, while others denied ever unequivocally opposing the debt-ceiling increase.
A spokesperson for Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., for example, told SOC the congressman had no record of taking a hard-line stance, saying he would oppose a debt hike "unless an adequate number of spending cuts were ensured to prevent a need for raising the spending limit again."
The WND surveys included contact by email or phone with GOP House staffers or a reliance on recent public statements by members. Raise the Debt Limit Survey New
"The only reason to raise the debt limit is to continue business as usual in Washington," says Farah. "There is no necessity to do it. The prudent and responsible move would be to run the government with the trillions in revenues it takes in. No individual, no business and no state or local government can just keep borrowing to justify uncontrolled spending. It's time the federal government starts operating like the rest of us do."