US debt deal: Tea Party may regret this victory
First reaction: As the US debt ceiling saga reaches its endgame, are there any political winners?
President Obama announced in a White House television broadcast late last night a deal to raise the US debt limit and stave off the prospect of a default on Tuesday.
Democrat and Republican leaders in both houses of Congress have agreed to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit by up to $2.4tn in exchange for a similar level of reductions to the country's deficit, which will include spending cuts.
Obama will get a $900bn increase in the debt ceiling now, with the other $1.5tn to follow after a joint committee of Congress reports on deficit reduction measures in November. In a significant victory for the president, he will not face another vote on the debt ceiling before the 2012 presidential election.
The deal marks the first time that right-wing Tea Party members of the Republican party have flexed their muscles. In doing so, they have brought the US to the brink of bankruptcy and may well have ensured the country loses its AAA credit rating - a serious blow that would increase the cost of borrowing for the government.
This isn't over yet. The BBC's Jane O'Brien, reporting from Washington, says the US is not out of the woods yet: "It's still likely to be a tough sell. The Republican Tea Party members are unlikely to support [the deal] because the cuts don't go far enough, and many Democrats will be furious that it doesn't include tax hikes.
"Both sides will hold further discussions on Monday before the agreement is drafted into legislation that can be put to a vote."
A Tea Party victory. The debt ceiling was a "political hostage the GOP could never afford to shoot", according to a Wall Street Journal leader. With that in mind, the deal is the best the Republicans could have hoped for. "In this deal [the Tea Party] forced both parties to make the biggest spending cuts in 15 years, with more cuts likely next year." It is quite a coup and "Tea Partiers will do more for their cause by applauding this victory and working toward the next, rather than diminishing what they've accomplished because it didn't solve every fiscal problem in one impossible swoop."
But will the people forgive the Tea Party? The Tea Party are "fundamentalists", writes Alex Spillius in the Daily Telegraph, "so nothing short of total triumph will do.
But make no mistake, they have proved beyond all doubt that the Tea Party calls the shots in the Republican majority in the House of Representatives." But will Americans outside their core support ever forgive them? "The movement played a large part in dragging the country to the brink of disaster, and many voters in the middle ground may not forgive them for that."
Peter Wallsten and David Nakamura in the Washington Post believe Obama may profit from this defeat. "For a White House eager to improve its standing with centrist independents who have been fleeing Obama, even a losing deal can be a winning strategy." Obama has avoided an economically damaging default and can now paint himself as a deficit hawk. They quote an Obama aide who believes the Republicans have done "terrible damage to their brand" in the long term, because now they're "defined by their most strident voices". ·
Comments are now closed on this article