House Speaker John Boehner made an "absolute, outright surrender" on leading the charge for a clean debt ceiling vote, talk show host Joe Scarborough said Wednesday.
"This was an absolute, outright surrender," Scarborough said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
"At the very least, Republicans could have made a point about a Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security system that is not going to be solvent for the next generation of retirees. Or endless wars, or a defense budget that is just absolutely exploding."
With narrow Republican support, the House passed a debt limit increase Tuesday without conditions. The bill, which now goes to the Senate for consideration, calls for a one-year extension of the federal government's borrowing authority. The vote was met with criticism from conservative Republican groups, including the Club for Growth and Heritage Action.
Scarborough said Republicans could have added something to the bill to address excessive government spending. He questioned Boehner's leadership by failing to "rally the troops together" and finding a way to add spending cuts that would "make Democrats feel uncomfortable when they sign it."
"Couldn't we have gotten something out of this?" Scarborough asked. "Do we have to either fall on our sword or surrender right out of the gate?"
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The host said Republicans could have made a point about a "$17.3 trillion debt, that, when Barack Obama (became) president was $6 trillion less." He questioned Boehner's leadership as speaker to find an issue, such as restoring cuts to military pensions, that would "at least make big spending Democrats feel uncomfortable."
"You inspire people, you rally them together. If John Boehner and the Republican leadership can't figure out a way to either watch everything go up in smoke or, you know, have abject surrender, then they're not the leaders the Republican party needs in the House," Scarborough said.
Ron Fournier, writer for the National Journal, countered Scarborough's claim about Boehner, and said the vote exhibited "a rare case where Boehner showed some leadership."
"So you sometimes have to do the right thing and take a bad headline," Fournier said.
Scarborough said Boehner should have worked over the past several months with Republicans in the House to include spending cuts in the bill.
"As a Republican, I'm tired of these 11th hour crises that actually could have been avoided if you had leadership, and you figured out how to rally troops around and come up with something," Scarborough said. "I'm just saying we didn't have to fall on our sword."
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