(Photo: Reuters / Joshua Roberts)
House Speaker John Boehner is laying all his cards on the table today in what will be a defining moment in his 20-plus year congressional career.
What Boehner wishes he could avoid is a showdown with Tea Party Nation Founder Judson Phillips.
Phillips, a lawyer and former assistant district attorney in Tennessee, is now working full-time on Tea Party Nation issues. He has cut his teeth on a number of tax battles and this is not his first time challenging the Republican hierarchy.
In an opinion piece that was published Wednesday in The Washington Post, Phillips told House Republicans to “stop out-of-control government spending and the borrowing to cover it.” He also answered the mainstream media’s question on why the Tea Party insists on spending cuts that are much deeper than Boehner or other Republicans have suggested.
“As the founder of Tea Party Nation, I feel confident in saying that the Tea Party understands what so many in Washington seem to have forgotten: We do not have a debt crisis. We have a spending crisis,” wrote Phillips. “There is only one way you get to a debt crisis – you spend too much money.”
The intense debate over the depth and breadth of spending cuts, combined with an accurate number of just how much the debt ceiling needs to be raised, has not only sparked heated discussions, but may have damaged some long-standing relationships – both personal and political.
Speaker Boehner, along with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and President Obama, have publicly taken direct shots at one another in the two weeks – comments normally conveyed only in private conversations.
To add fuel to the fire, Boehner has to contend with a GOP freshman class that is 87 members strong because of their willingness to adopt Tea Party principles in the 2010 elections.
Appearing on “The Laura Ingraham Show” this morning, Boehner said his plan “is the best opportunity we have to hold the president’s feet to the fire.”
“Listen, it’s time to do what is doable, and this bill isn’t perfect … That’s what happens when you have a Democrat-controlled Senate and a Democrat in the White House,” Boehner said.
Wednesday’s meeting of the House GOP was in large part an effort to convince those on the fence and some who have previously said they would not support the speaker’s latest effort to change their mind.
Earlier today, a group of Republican House freshmen held a press conference on the Capitol steps to declare their support for Boehner’s plan, saying that virtually all of the freshmen were supporting their speaker. Boehner and his whip, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), know they can only lose 23 Republican votes and their goal today will be to ensure that number stays well into the single digits.
Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), told a distinguished group of journalists gathered at the National Press Club today that she would not be voting for Boehner's plan.
But what would Phillips advise Republicans to do?
The Christian Post caught up with Phillips today and his response was simple and straightforward: “I would tell them to listen to the Tea Party and remember why you were put in power.”
"We've got to have a plan that actually reduces the debt and neither Boehner or Reid have produced anything remotely close," said Phillips. "And Obama refused to produce anything at all. Any plan spread out over 10 years is a fantasy – a joke. Someone has got to get serious about reducing our debt or we're going to end up like Greece and they're in a death spiral."
Speaker Boehner’s first hurdle of getting the necessary votes for passage on Thursday will be tough, but far greater heights may await him in the Senate where a Democrat majority sits in wait of the bill.