As an American, I’m not really concerned about whether the Democrats or the Republicans “won” on the debt ceiling bill. I’m just pleased that my government can continue to pay its bills. I am, however, concerned that members of the Illinois delegation tried to use the debate to score points for the 2012 election. That’s the kind of partisanship that caused the impasse in the first place.
Here’s who looked like a statesman and who looked like a hack this week:
STATESMAN: Sen. Dick Durbin, one of the bi-partisan “Gang of Six” who crossed party lines to come up with a solution to the debt ceiling crisis. As a result, Durbin may end up on the 12-member committee that comes up with a plan to cut $1.2 trillion from the budget over the next 10 years.
HACK: Sharp-tongued Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who accused Republicans of “fragging” their leaders and the American people, and spoke at a rally for the American Dream Movement, a left-wing answer to the Tea Party. Schakowsky voted no on the debt ceiling bill.
STATESMAN: Sen. Mark Kirk burnished his moderate image by voting for the debt ceiling deal, despite qualms about defense cuts. He then whacked the House Republican Study Group – the far right wing of his own party -- for “completely overreaching,” and predicted the group would find itself “vastly muted” with “limited influence going forward.”
HACK: Did anyone expect Rep. Joe Walsh to vote for this deal? He’s Illinois’s number-one Tea Partier, embodying the intemperate loudmouths who believed a default was preferable to sacrificing an extreme vision of the federal government’s role. Walsh’s statement on his “no” vote was radicalism defined: he believed destroying the institution was the only solution to the problem.
“I have made it clear from day one that I will never vote in favor of a debt ceiling increase unless it fundamentally changes the way Washington, D.C., spends money. I believe the way to do that is by statutory spending caps and a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.”
STATESMAN: Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a reluctant “yes” vote who defined the difference between reform and radicalism: “I came to change the institution; I didn't come to burn it down.”
“The Tea Partiers and the GOP have made their slash and burn lunacy clear, and while I do not love this compromise, my vote is a hose to stop the burning,” Gutierrez said in a statement. “The arsonists must be stopped. The damage this bill will do to the people of the Fourth District, Chicago, and the country is real and lasting but pales in comparison to the damage the GOP was willing to do to the American and world economies to make a political point. It isn’t worth the risk.”
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