George Will on debt ceiling battle: ‘Pocket these gains and prepare for the next fight’

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
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On Wednesday, as House Speaker John Boehner was twisting arms to get so-called “Tea Party” members of his caucus to go along with his less aggressive plan, many on the right were crying foul and calling for a revolt against the Republican leader.

However, on Laura Ingraham’s Thursday radio show, Washington Post columnist George Will, often shunned as Washington establishment elitist or Beltway insider by some fixtures on the right, advised the Tea Party movement to take this victory while the getting is good. And he touted his own conservative credentials as he voiced his support for Boehner.

“Let me just say this – I think my conservative credentials are pretty good,” Will said. “I cast my first presidential vote for Barry Goldwater in 1964 and I’ve been moving right ever since. I had my first job in journalism with Bill Buckley as the Washington editor of his National Review. I worked for a conservative Republican senator on the staff before that whose ADA [Americans For Democratic Action] rating was three out of a possible 100. So I think my conservative credentials are, if not impeccable – pretty good and I would support Boehner.”

He explained President Barack Obama got himself in trouble by overreaching with his policy initiatives and said the Tea Party faces the same criticism if they hold too tight to these convictions.

“I happened to adore the Tea Party,” he said. “I have no substantive difference with them on any important matter. But it’s important to understand how much they’ve won already. Harry Reid has proposed what the president denounces as an unbalanced idea. That is … all cuts and no new revenues. They’ve moved in other words, the Senate Majority Leader, far in their direction. They should remember it seems to me that Barack Obama got into terrible trouble by overreaching with the stimulus, then overreaching with the health care plan and the country recoiled from it. And our Tea Party friends don’t want to seem to the country to be similarly overreaching.”

It took some time to get to this point, Will explained, and the role of government won’t be changed with a single debt ceiling vote.

“It really is fanciful to believe that the regulatory welfare state that has been built over 80 years can be substantially deconstructed in August over a debt ceiling vote,” Will said. “It’s going to take a little longer than that.”

But if the Tea Party were to be successful in their bid to thwart the passage of the Boehner proposal and some sort of economic calamity were to take place, Will warned Obama could use it as a way to blame the Republican Party in the upcoming election cycle.

“[I] am convinced that the president half-wants chaos in the markets because then he can say the recovery was nipped in the bud and all economic difficulties from August 2, 2011 through Election Day 2012 are at least partly the fault of the Republicans, if not entirely,” he said. “So, he’s looking for an alibi and we don’t want to give him one.”

Will suggested the Tea Party realize how far they’ve come from noon on Jan.20, 2009 when President Barack Obama was sworn in – a point when the country was on the brink of socialism. Now the conversation has shifted to cutting government.

“We ought to pocket these gains and prepare for the next fight – and to understand, nothing fundamentally will be changed until we change the president who is determined to veto fundamental change,” Will said.