At a closed door meeting of U.S. Senators and limited government advocates in Washington, D.C. earlier this week, there was an unlikely attendee … and an unlikely champion for the adoption of an uncompromising position on the ongoing debt ceiling debate.
His name? Lindsey Graham.
“He was the most aggressive voice in the room,” one of the meeting’s attendees told FITS.
Wait … Lindsey Graham? The most liberal Republican in Washington, D.C.? The “third Senator from New York?”
That’s right … for the time being, Graham isn’t focused on his prior collaboration with U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) on energy tax hikes. Nor is he spending much time working on amnesty legislation with U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York).
Instead, Graham is meeting regularly with Tea Party leaders like U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Jim DeMint (R-SC) – urging them to stand their ground against raising the debt ceiling from $14.3 to $16.7 trillion without concessions.
While our sources declined to elaborate on the specific debt ceiling strategy that Graham advocated at this meeting, they said that he gave an impassioned speech that in no uncertain terms recommended calling U.S. President Barack Obama’s bluff.
“Jaws were on the floor,” one of the meeting’s attendees told FITS.
“Lindsey Graham is born again hard,” another said, referring to a famous line from the movie Full Metal Jacket.
Graham’s South Carolina consultant, Richard Quinn, says that Graham is firmly committed to the “cut cap and balance” proposal that cleared the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this week. That plan calls for the adoption of a balanced budget amendment and a cap on the growth of government in future years – as well as modest immediate cuts.
It’s not a perfect plan – as we noted earlier this week – but it is infinitely preferable to the amorphous U.S. Senate plan, which would include roughly $1 trillion in “revenue enhancements” and no guaranteed cuts.
That plan is being advanced by a so-called “Gang of Six,” which includes Republican U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss (RINO-Georgia), Mike Crapo (RINO-Idaho) and Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma).
Wait … Tom Coburn? The guy who literally wrote the book on how Washington, D.C. erodes the fiscal conservative values of Republican politicians?
He’s supporting what amounts to nothing short of a wholesale betrayal of taxpayers? Sadly, yes.
“(Coburn)’s tired,” one of our D.C. sources says. “All you have to do is look at the man (to see) he’s been beaten down.”
Anyway, Graham’s recent ideological adjustment (we’re nowhere near ready to call it a conversion) is worth taking note of for a couple of reasons.
Locally, it impacts what is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated electoral battles in South Carolina history. In 2014, Graham is likely to be challenged by S.C. Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort), the leading fiscal conservative in the S.C. General Assembly.
Last month, Davis indicated that he would not run for a new U.S. House district in the event one were created in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Davis has also reportedly told leaders in the S.C. Senate that he is not interested in becoming a compromise candidate for the lieutenant governor’s office in the event that its current occupant, Ken Ard, is forced to resign.
“He’s gunning for Graham,” one Lowcountry GOP activist told FITS.
On the national level, Graham’s tack to the right makes it much harder for “Republicans” in Washington to sign off on any compromise that raises the debt ceiling without real, ironclad concessions … concessions signed in blood.
After all, for the first two years of the Obama administration Graham has been the GOP’s leftward line of demarcation – occupying positions on the ideological spectrum that no other Republican dared to even approach.
The fact that he’s now staking out ground on the more conservative side of the debt ceiling debate removes an element of “cover” for Republican politicians tempted to cave on the debt debate.
Pic: via Daylife