The main topic of the Sunday talk shows was the debate over raising the nation's debt ceiling. Obama's announced Afghanistan troop withdrawal, the two votes on Libya in the House, and Michele Bachmann's strong showing in a new Iowa poll rounded out the rest of the top stories.
Debt Ceiling Debate
The key issue in that debate is whether Congress will approve an increase to the debt ceiling and whether Republicans will support revenue increases, along with spending cuts, to pass the measure.
On Fox News Sunday, Senate Assistant Minority Leader John Kyl (R-Ariz.) was asked if Republicans would support a deal that would raise $1 in revenue for every $3 in spending cuts. “The key here is economic growth,” Kyl said. And, “there's also a very practical problem in the House of Representatives, it's not going to pass if you have a big tax increase.”
When asked if Republicans could accept revenue increases that come from eliminating tax deductions and subsides, Kyl replied, “We have always been willing to [eliminate tax deductions and subsidies] in the context of overall tax reform, but we're not going to be able to do it in order to raise revenue as part of this exercise that should be about reducing spending.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made the same point on ABC's This Week: “Throwing more tax revenue into the mix is simply not going to produce the desired result. It won't pass.”
House Minority Whip James Clyburn, appearing after McConnell on This Week, took issue with McConnell for not distinguishing revenue derived from ending tax deductions from revenue derived from increasing tax rates. “How do you call closing loopholes to oil companies ... how do you call that a tax hike? That is not a tax hike. You only hike taxes when you raise rates,” said Clyburn.
On CNN's State of the Union, Bill Burton, former Deputy White House Press Secretary to President Obama, warned that Republicans could make a strategic blunder if they don't compromise with the president. He said that “if [Speaker of the House John] Boehner isn't able to go in [to the White House] and make a deal and make sure the nation doesn't default ... then Republicans will end up owning the economy as much as the president does.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R), on the other hand, said the debt ceiling debate is the result of a failure of leadership from the White House during his interview on Meet the Press. “The first thing is that the president had to get involved personally ... everyone has got to put skin in the game ... If you're the executive, you've got to be the guy out there pushing and leading. You can't lay back and wait for someone else to do it."
“If the president has made a mistake here, it is this laid back kind of approach where he's waiting for someone else to solve the problems, some people say it's a political strategy, no matter what it is, it is not effective in solving problems.”
Senator's Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) appeared together on Meet the Press to discuss foreign policy with Afghanistan and Libya. Both supported the president's decision on Afghanistan while also offering some warnings. Reed said that, as U.S. forces pull out, diplomatic negotiations with the Taliban should “be at the top of our priorities. As we shift out of our military led presence we have to have a strong diplomatic led presence.”
On This Week's panel, Vali Nasr, professor of International Politics at Tufts University, commented, “If you reduce [by] 30,000 troops and the Taliban surge, which more than likely they will, then you're caught in a situation [where] you either have to go back in or you have to withdraw the other 70,000. We're handing over the momentum to the Taliban and we're putting our eggs into some kind of negotiated settlement whereas we're taking away our leverage to get the Taliban to make a negotiated settlement.”
On Libya, Reed stated that he supports a bill to be authored by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would authorize the use of force in Libya. Webb, on the other hand, said that he would support amendments to that bill that will be offered by Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) that would more severely limit the use of force in Libya.
Webb also criticized President Obama's use of force in Libya, saying, “The reasons that he used for going in defied historical precedent. We weren't under attack ... there's a very serious issue of precedent here."
“On the other hand, we need to be clear, once Gaddafi's gone, we won't have American troops in there as a peacekeeping force.”
In the Fox News Sunday panel, Bill Kristol said he was “unhappy” with House Republicans who voted to cut off funding for military operations in Libya or against authorizing the use of force. “I would've voted with the eight Republicans who voted for the authorization for the use of force,” said Kristol.
On State of the Union, Michael Gerson, former speechwriter for George W. Bush, also criticized his fellow Republicans. “We saw in the Libyan debate a lot of Republicans coming out against, I think the president's pretty good strategy, in this case just for political reasons resulting in an odd alliance between the anti-war left and the anti-Obama right.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) appeared on Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday. On Face the Nation she was asked about her religion and “calling from God” to run for office.
"I prayed about that, as well," Bachmann said. "And that's really what that means. It means that I have a sense of assurance about the direction I think that God is speaking into my heart that I should go."
On Fox News Sunday, she clarified her position on same-sex marriage, saying that she would support an amendment to the Constitution that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.
Throughout her interview on Fox News Sunday, Bachmann emphasized that she is a “serious” candidate, using that word three times. When she was asked, “are you a flake?” alluding to the public perception that many have of her, she replied, “I think that would be insulting to say that because I'm a serious person.”