GOP Leadership Can't Take Default Off The Table
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was widely quoted today saying that the Republican congressional leadership had "taken default off the table" in its negotiations with the White House on increasing the debt ceiling. Take a look at this story from Reuters that earlier today was published on CNBC.com, for example.
There's a basic problem, however: The GOP congressional leadership doesn't necessarily speak for the rank and file and so can't guarantee that anything it agrees to on the debt ceiling will be approved in their respective houses. Indeed, the lack of control that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have over their respective caucuses is one of the big differences between the situation that exists now and the one that took place in 1995-96 when Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) could cut deal with the Clinton White House and be relatively sure that the GOP members would support it. In fact...they did.