When you've lost the Koch brothers, you've lost the game.
Republicans intent on smashing through the debt ceiling in order to wring some spending concessions out of President Obama are finding themselves awfully lonely these days, but they've kept soldiering on. The latest ally to abandon them may be the toughest to ignore, though. The president of the group Americans For Prosperity, bankrolled by Charles G. and David H. Koch of Koch Industries, yesterday said the group wants spending cuts, but warned Republicans that screwing around with the debt ceiling "makes the messaging more difficult," the Financial Times writes. The AFP president also warned Republicans not to be seen as "hostage takers." That's a marked change from the summer of 2011, when AFP objected to a debt-ceiling deal because it didn't cut spending enough, the FT notes.
This is way, way beyond former House Speaker Newt Gingrich telling House Republicans to give up on its debt-ceiling threat, like he did again yesterday. Newt's always rattling on about moon bases and zoos and stuff, so nobody listens to him. And certainly the House GOP doesn't care that Sen. Susan Collins (RINO-Maine) warned them to bow to the inevitable and raise the debt ceiling, as she did yesterday. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-DebtPanicStan) are a little tougher to take, but the cognitive dissonance arising from their debt-ceiling warnings is still manageable.
But the deep-pocketed Kochs are harder to ignore. Similar warnings recently from Tom Donohue of the Chamber of Commerce, along with the Financial Services Roundtable, the Business Roundtable and other job creators, also can't be ignored. These people have all of the money. And if the economy goes off the cliff, as a new survey of economists strongly suggests it would in a ceiling-breach, then these people will have less money available for campaign contributions. Game over.
Republicans appear to be willing to avoid a showdown over the debt limit and instead use the sequester as their main negotiating lever in upcoming fiscal fights with the White House and Senate Democrats.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Republicans at a closed-door retreat in Williamsburg were weighing a short-term increase in the country's borrowing limit, giving all sides time to work on a broader fiscal plan in March that would include substantial spending cuts.
"Sometimes you've got to lay down a sacrifice bunt," said Rep. Dennis Ross of Florida about the debt ceiling increase.