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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Reelection and the Debt Limit

The New York Times reports on why so many House Republicans are taking a hard line on the debt limit:

"Re-election is the farthest thing from my mind,” said Representative Tom Reed, a freshman Republican from upstate New York. “Like many of my colleagues in the freshman class, I came down here to get our fiscal house in order and take care of the threat to national security that we see in the federal debt. We came here not to have long careers. We came here to do something. We don’t care about re-election.”

It is not clear how genuine or widespread that sentiment is in Congress, but regardless, it has upended what President Obama said on Friday had been a “difficult but routine process” in past years.

Reelection is part of their motivation. If Republicans yield too much, too soon, they will face serious challenges in party primaries next year. But Reed's comments suggest that something else is also going on: lawmakers are acting on their concept of the public interest. Republicans and Democrats have principled disagreements about what is good for the country