Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) earned his reputation for “straight talk” Wednesday when he harshly criticized Republicans who are demanding a vote on a balanced budget amendment before they will vote to raise the debt limit.
“What is really amazing about this is that some members are believing that we can pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution in this body with its present representation, and that is foolish,” McCain said.
On Wednesday, Senators Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and David Vitter (R-La.) sent a letter to their colleagues urging them not to support a bill offered by Speaker of the House John Boehner, but rather to try again to pass the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” bill, which would require that Congress propose a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution before the debt ceiling could be raised.
It was this letter that McCain was responding to. The Senate voted to “table,” or put aside, the Cut, Cap and Balance bill last Friday, with all 53 Democrats voting in favor.
“That is worse than foolish,” McCain added, “That is deceiving many of our constituents by telling them that just because the Majority Leader tabled the balanced budget amendment legislation that somehow through 'amending and debate' we could somehow convince the majority on the other side of the aisle to go along with a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. That is not fair! That is not fair to the American people to hold out and say, 'we won't agree to raising the debt limit until we pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. It's unfair. It's bizarro.”
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution would require a two-third vote in each house of Congress.
McCain further accused those who expect the Senate to pass a balanced budget amendment of being inexperienced. “And maybe, some people who've only been in this body for six or seven months or so really believe that.”
McCain clarified, however, that his opposition is not to a balanced budget amendment. “Now I will take backseat to none in my support of the balanced budget amendment to the Constitution-13 times I have voted for it,” McCain said.
McCain also read a Wall Street Journal editorial that criticized Republicans who are opposing the Boehner plan.
The editorial said, in part, “But what none of these critics have is an alternative strategy for achieving anything nearly as fiscally or politically beneficial as Mr. Boehner's plan.
“The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue, and the public will turn en masse against . . . Barack Obama. The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor.
“This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell into GOP Senate nominees. The reality is that the debt limit will be raised one way or another, and the only issue now is with how much fiscal reform and what political fallout.”
Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell were Tea Party favorites who lost their elections to the Senate. Appearing on the Fox News show “Hannity,” McCain was criticized for bashing the Tea Party. He clarified that his main point was that it was foolish to demand a balanced budget amendment when it has no chance to pass the Senate. He also praised the Tea Party Movement.
“The Tea Party I admire, respect and appreciate. They are the ones that gave us a majority in the United States House of Representatives so that we can get something done. I'm proud and I'm appreciative of them,” McCain said.