Lanny Davis: Debt Ceiling Impasse Could Cost GOP Its Edge

Monday, 10 Feb 2014 03:19 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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The Republican Party has a big advantage over the Democrats going into the 2014 elections, but the GOP could easily blow that lead with another debt ceiling impasse, veteran political consultant Lanny Davis says.

"They have a big advantage going into 2014, and they may just waste it by having a silly argument that everybody knows the end gain is they give in," Davis, who served as special counsel to President Bill Clinton, told Newsmax TV's John Bachman in an exclusive interview on "America's Forum."

"We can't afford to not raise the debt ceiling … and I think they will this time, face reality, that it's just not worth giving up the advantage they now have, which is clearly with the mess-up in Obamacare."

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Davis — who heads Lanny J. Davis & Associates, which focuses on legislative political strategies — says that if Republican lawmakers do try to push an impasse it would be "a great gift" for the Democrats.

"We're in trouble. There's no question Democrats are very upset with the mismanagement of the Obamacare rollout and the failure of the administration and Democrats like me to explain this thing well enough that we didn't warn people they would lose their insurance policies," he said.

"We broke a basic trust with the American people. I say 'we' because I love these Democrats that blame it all on Barack Obama when they were the ones that supported the thing. So we're in trouble."

But Davis believes there are numerous opportunities for GOP lawmakers to put foot-in-mouth.

"The only thing that can save us is [Sen.] Rand Paul [of Kentucky]. May you please keep Rand Paul on television? His nasty comments about Bill and Hillary Clinton show that nasty doesn't work in politics," Davis said, referring to Paul's recent description of the former president as a "sexual predator."

"Ask [New Jersey Gov.] Chris Christie. Nasty doesn't work in politics, Sen. Paul. You are nasty. So keep Paul on television, keep [House Speaker] John Boehner on television, and the Republicans may actually rescue us once again."

Davis believes Boehner is too argumentative with his own party.

"He seems like he's a nice guy. He just doesn't get it, and he's really out of sync with his own party … Does he have any friends who tell him, 'look, being flippant isn't really working for you, John?'" Davis said.

Davis believes both Republicans and Democrats have a responsibility to work together and compromise.

"We've got to cut back on entitlement programs, on federal spending, and raise taxes, period. It's that simple. Everyone's got to do something they don't want to do," he said.

"Republicans don't want to raise taxes. Democrats don't want to cut back on entitlement programs. Guess what? $17 trillion now equals gross domestic product.

"But, having said that, we have no choice but to raise the debt ceiling, otherwise the country is, essentially, insolvent, when we're paying more in debt than our goods or services that we're buying."

Davis proposed the elimination of debt ceiling votes on Capitol Hill.

"It should be a president who raises the debt ceiling," he said.

Turning to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Davis is not impressed at how Russian President Vladimir Putin has managed the Games, which have faced various problems.

"Putin, on a scale from one to 10 is equivalent to the Obama White House when it decided not to tell President Obama about the IRS story that everyone knew was going to break but Barack Obama," he said.

"I used to use Valdez and Exxon as the worst crisis mismanagement example when I teach courses in crisis management. I will now use Putin as replacing the White House's handling of the IRS scandal."

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