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Three Questions

11:08 AM, Aug 1, 2011 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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US Capitol Building at night Jan 2006

I’m pretty much where Mitt Romney is on the deal to raise the debt ceiling: On the one hand, it “opens the door to higher taxes and puts defense cuts on the table.” On the other hand, “I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama’s lack of leadership has placed Republican Members of Congress in.” Net: “I personally cannot support this deal”—but, as is implied by the tone and brevity of Romney’s statement, I wouldn’t denounce members of Congress who support it.

But here are some simple questions that members who do support the deal should answer:

1.)  Will you commit to voting to repeal and replace this deal in 2013 if there’s a Republican president? I’ll acknowledge that in 2011 the Republican leaders had to negotiate a deal with the president we have. But will you acknowledge, while this was perhaps as good as you could get now, that it’s not good enough for the country in the medium- and long-term, that it’s dangerous in the area of defense, and that it shouldn’t shape the country’s budget policy for the next decade?

2). Will you, even as you support the deal, remind the country of how much it doesn’t do? It doesn’t repeal Obamacare, doesn’t fundamentally downsize the federal government, doesn’t secure our defense, and doesn’t even preserve the current tax rates. Will you refrain from ridiculously overhyping this deal as some sort of major, substantive accomplishment for Republicans or for the conservative cause?

3). Will you say now that you reserve the right, at the end of this year, to oppose the special committee report (if there is a majority report) if it’s bad policy, and that you would also seek, legislatively, to change the trigger mechanism that is now in place if the committee report isn’t adopted?

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