This is a tough time to be a Republican. First they lost the presidential election and then the whole fiscal cliff thing seemed to put them in an even more precarious position. Many of them ended up having to cave in on their no-tax-increase-ever pledge and that seems to have caused more division within their already fractured ranks.
Honestly, I feel bad for them. They were put in a really tough spot having to decide whether to vote for a plan that would raise taxes on some of us or do nothing and see taxes raised on almost everyone.
Im not going to pile on Republicans who voted in favor of the plan. I might have done the same thing in their position. But the tea party crowd is not as understanding as I am. They are promising to challenge any tax turncoats who voted in favor of the fiscal cliff compromise in the next election cycle. I understand their frustration, I really do. And I dont think for a minute that the legislation that was passed was any kind of solution to our perilous financial situation.
But I think we need to show a little patience -- this thing is not over yet. Republicans still have a chance to take a stand against the outrageous deficit spending that is the real root of all of our financial difficulties.
We have once again reached the point where our national debt ceiling will have to be raised in order for the government to be able to pay its bills. And many of the Republicans who voted to approve the tax increase at the first of the year have stated that they will not support raising the debt ceiling unless it is coupled with serious cuts in deficit spending.
Our own Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who voted in favor of the fiscal cliff compromise, is one such legislator. Hes getting a lot of heat from some right-wingers in the state (such as Telegraph columnist Erick Erickson, who sadly will not be running a sure-to-be entertaining campaign against Chambliss himself in 2014) as was briefly rumored) for having displayed an increasingly disturbing trend toward moderation.
Chambliss has stated bluntly that he will press hard to tie major spending reductions to the raising of the debt limit. Other Republicans who voted in favor of the tax hike have echoed the same sentiment, and the lead Republican in the Senate has said that further tax increases will not be considered in future deals with Democrats.
Our president has other ideas, however. He has declared that he will not have another debate with this Congress over whether the debt ceiling will be raised. He has said he is willing to discuss budget cuts, but also that he believes that further tax increases on rich folks should be part of a deficit reduction plan.
If the Republican Party was ever going to act as united force and show some backbone, this would be the time. They need to hold the line on more tax increases.
And they should refuse to discuss the debt ceiling issue until there is a budget plan that includes dramatic cuts in federal spending, and by the way, they need to come up with their own spending plan to cut spending that includes specifics.
The president cannot refuse to negotiate on something that requires congressional action to occur. The GOP needs to forget about opinion polls, the next election cycle, and all the things that idiots like me in the media say (with the exception of this column) and do what they know to be right.
Draw a line in the sand. Call the presidents bluff. Get our spending under control or let the debt ceiling situation unravel and live with the consequences. The president and really the whole country is in dire need of a wakeup call.
As Apollo Creed once said to Rocky Balboa, there is no tomorrow.
Bill Ferguson is a resident of Centerville. Readers can write him at email@example.com or visit his blog at nscsense.blogspot.com.