Sen. John McCain contends that he was not attacking the tea party movement when he read from a Wall Street Journal editorial on the Senate floor that called tea-party-supporting House members “Hobbits.”
Rather, the Arizona Republican told Fox News’ Sean Hannity Wednesday, he was trying to stress that their stance against House Speaker John Boehner’s debt-reduction bill was self-defeating.
|Fox News' Sean Hannity and Sen. John McCain debate tea party and Boehner plan, but agree on one thing: President Barack Obama caused the debt crisis.
The section McCain read from the editorial: “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 the 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.”
Hannity told McCain he disliked the editorial and other references to those who oppose Boehner’s plan, because opponents — and specifically the tea party — did not create the debt crisis.
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Hannity then asked McCain why he was attacking the tea party.
McCain said he was reading from the Journal’s editorial, at which point Hannity interrupted, saying: “Well, one that was attacking the tea party.”
“It was basically attacking the idea that somehow, if we shut down the government, that then Obama would get the blame and Republicans would triumph. I disagree,” McCain said. “I think that the fact is, that if we don’t act in the Republican House — and I believe, by the way, that they will, at least I certainly hope that they will — then the ball will be in President Obama’s court and Harry Reid’s, who has, as you pointed out, one of the most flimsy transparent phony spending cut things — proposals — that I’ve ever seen.
“So, I wasn’t attacking the tea partyers or anybody. What I was trying to point out, as The Wall Street Journal was, is that we need to act with our own spending cuts, with our own legitimate spending cuts. In that way, then all the pressure will be on the president and the Democrats under Harry Reid.”
Hannity said he found the editorial an attack on the tea party and, “if you’re agreeing with it, and mentioning Christine O'Donnell or Sharron Angle, it sounds like an attack on the tea party.”
McCain countered: “If you read the whole editorial, it was an attack on President Obama and the way that they’re trying to shift the blame on to Republicans. And that’s also what I said on the floor of the Senate. The president has not come forward with a plan — that’s unconscionable — that’s the worst aspect of leading from behind. But that doesn’t mean that Republicans are relieved of their responsibilities.
“Look, I’ve got to tell you this, Sean: There is no way that there are 67 votes in the United States Senate to pass a balanced-budget amendment to the constitution. Now, I'll put my conservative fiscal record up against anyone — tea party, non-tea party — anybody’s. I fought against the Bush spending proposals. I voted against my own party, time after time. I'm proud of my record.”
McCain said he is all for a balanced-budget amendment and that he has voted for one 13 times.
“I don’t want to shut down the government. I think Boehner has a good proposal, and I think that we ought to support it,” he said. “And if the Democrats and President Obama don’t want to support it, then it is their problem of shutting down the government.”
Hannity listed what the new GOP House has done since January, including voting to repeal Obamacare and passing a budget, and said Republicans should put a deficit-reduction plan on the president’s desk. “If he doesn’t want it, then any default will be on his shoulders. Tell me why I'm wrong.”
McCain said Hannity was wrong because “the lack of confidence throughout the world will be reflected in very severe repercussions, not to just mention downgrades. You saw the stock market went down nearly 200 points today. And to somehow think that we won't have to pay 40 percent of our bills is just wrong.”
The two went back and forth, disagreeing on almost every point, including whether Social Security and veterans’ payments would be mailed out (Hannity said yes, McCain no).
McCain then said: “I think the Boehner plan is a good viable option, and you obviously disagree.”
Hannity noted that 53 Senate Democrats sent the president a letter saying they would vote against it, “so I guess it is dead like every other plan.”
They finally did agree that Obama caused the debt problem, not the tea party.
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