Several members of Congress and conservative leaders have told The Daily Caller about significant inaccuracies in a recent Washington Post analysis of the origins of the 2011 debt ceiling showdown.
In a Sunday feature article, a team of Post reporters wrote that so-called “Young Guns” — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and budget committee chairman Paul Ryan — laid the groundwork for the debt ceiling fight years ago as a means to rebuild the GOP and take back political majorities in Washington.
The Post described the debt ceiling fight as “the natural outgrowth of a years-long effort by GOP recruiters to build a new majority and reverse the party’s fortunes.”
In what it calls the “origins of the debt showdown,” the Post concluded that the Republican Party’s “Young Guns” began orchestrating a politically motivated debt ceiling fight “before the economy collapsed in 2008, before the government bailouts that followed, before the tea party rose in response to push its anti-tax, anti-spending message.”
Members of Congress and conservative leaders have leapt up to dispute the Post’s analysis, with some calling it “conspiratorial” and “an attempt to blame somebody” for an unprecedented political near-meltdown.
“Ridiculous” is the word Rep. Jeff Landry used. Landry is a freshman Republican from Louisiana. “I’m sure that if you wanted to write an Oliver Stone novel, it’d be a good place to start,” Landry told TheDC in a phone interview. He added that while parts of what the Post published were true, it was missing crucial context. (RELATED: Tea party congressman flips Biden’s ‘terrorist’ label back on Democrats)
“I certainly believe they [the Young Guns] were plotting to get their majority back,” Landry said. “That’s [also] what I believe the Democrats are doing right now.”
Landry said the Post has the chain of cause-and-effect backwards. While Cantor, McCarthy and Ryan harnessed the energy of the tea party movement, he explained, they didn’t light the debt ceiling fire on their own.
“I think that because of their [McCarthy’s and Cantor’s] keen political sense and Ryan’s passion to fix our fiscal woes — that it gave them the ability to feel the nation’s pulse, not only from a conservative perspective but from independents and conservative Democrats as well … These were guys with sound fiscal conservative values. They were the right people for the right time.”
Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a freshman Republican from Kansas, told TheDC that the Post’s narrative is “just an attempt by Washington insiders to suggest it was another Washington insider who somehow put together this political game.”
“That’s what Americans are tired of. For Harry Reid or whoever to suggest that game of politics – this is serious stuff,” Huelskamp said in a phone interview. “It happened principally because of Obama, but I’ve been very clear that we had eight years of $4 trillion of new debt under George W. Bush. At least the Post gets that part of it, but they forget the $4 trillion that Obama laid on there in two and a half years.”
Huelskamp insists that it’s “ridiculous” to suggest the GOP “Young Guns” pushed freshmen to drive the debt ceiling issue. Americans were raising concerns about America’s spiraling debt without any prompting from Washington, he says. “My district is heavily Republican and when I would go out and do town halls, everybody was saying that. Even some Democrats, and every Republican. They’re very concerned.”