WASHINGTON – Only 96 more votes in the House of Representatives are needed to block a hike in the debt limit, an action that would inevitably result in the first massive cuts in the federal budget in a generation, a WND survey shows.
“The tide is turning against raising the debt limit,” says WND’s Joseph Farah, the organizer of the “No More Red Ink” campaign that has flooded House Republicans with nearly 1 million red letters objecting to any more borrowing beyond the $14.3 trillion in debt that will be reached sometime around April 15. “When this campaign began, we could identify only two solid Republican votes. Now we have identified 122. That’s real progress, but we only have two or three more weeks left to make history.”
Farah calls the vote the most important that will be cast in Congress in the next two years and, perhaps, the most important in the last century.
In the first major survey of House Republicans’ attitudes toward raising the debt limit, more than half say they are committed to opposing more borrowing and only 23 of 241 take their leadership’s position – that approving more borrowing past the 14.3 trillion limit is essential.
The survey was conducted by WND through calls and emails to the offices of members and, when direct responses were not forthcoming, public statements made by the officials were used.
The results are staggering in their lopsidedness, because it takes only 218 votes in the Republican-controlled House to block any effort to raise the debt limit – an action that would precipitate the most drastic cuts in federal government programs in modern history.
A total of 122 House Republicans are already committed to opposing any additional hike in the debt limit, while 54 others says they would do so with conditions – most of which include spending cuts or a balanced budget. An additional 42 members say they are undecided.
House Speaker John Boehner has repeatedly said publicly that the debt limit will have to be raised, at the same time pushing for spending cuts. Boehner believes failure to raise the debt limit will result in defaults on loan obligations and poses danger to the government’s credit rating, an assessment he shares with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
But the Heritage Foundation, CATO Institute and Investors Business Daily have all downplayed the threat of defaults with studies showing the government can still service the interest on the existing debt with tax revenues if substantial cuts in the budget are made.
In response to the survey results, Mike Steele, spokesman for Boehner, told WND: “The speaker has made it clear that while the president is begging us to raise the debt limit without cutting spending, that is obviously unacceptable to the American people. We need to cut spending and institute reforms so that we can keep cutting.”
He declined to say whether or not he was surprised by the heavy support for a debt-limit freeze within the Republican House majority.
Farah was pleasantly surprised by the results of the survey.
“The press has largely assumed Republican House members would go along with business as usual, but apparently no one has taken an actual head count,” said Farah. “This survey strongly suggests there is a very real chance the House will say no to another debt limit increase – an action that would signal a fundamental restructuring of the way the federal government operates.”
Since approval of both houses of Congress is required to raise the debt limit, this is one of the very few meaningful actions the Republican-controlled House can take without the consent of the Senate or the White House.
Farah has called it the Republicans’ “secret weapon.”
If a debt limit increase is not approved, all borrowing by the federal government would stop. It would mandate the biggest cuts in the federal budget in generations – to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.
In addition to the building opposition from House Republicans, at least one Democrat in the House has signaled his objection to more borrowing – Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.