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October 13, 2013

HOWEY: Hoosier GOP on a potential default

BLOOMINGTON – The Obamacare health exchanges got off to a disastrous start this week, plagued by systemic computer glitches. But the focus of the nation was fixated on a congressionally induced government shutdown and a potential default that could dwarf the Lehman Brothers collapse of 2008.

By Wednesday, the magnitude of this epic congressional feint was an Associated Press/gfk Poll that showed approval for the body at 5 percent, putting Congress in the company of drug dealers and Kim Jung Un. The poll revealed that 62 percent blamed Republicans. Gallup measured support for the Republican Party at a historic low 28 percent, compared to a less miserable 43 percent for Democrats.

Capitol Hill sources tell me that among the eight Hoosier Republicans, a handful actually entertained a federal default.

When I sought positions from the Republican delegation, U.S. Rep. Todd Young came out emphatically against a default, while Reps. Marlin Stutzman, Susan Brooks, Larry Bucshon and Luke Messer took positions theoretically against a default, but couched the situation by urging President Obama and congressional Democrats to come to the table to negotiate, something the president said he wouldn’t do until the government reopened.

Missing in response was Rep. Todd Rokita, who in 2011 was open to a default.

Young, the Bloomington Republican who sits on the House Ways & Means Committee, has been speaking out against a federal default since 2011 and indicated he opposes anything that would prevent raising the debt ceiling, which is set to expire Oct. 17. But the closer that day comes, the more risk there is to a credit downgrade. In 2011, that downgrade actually came before the debt limit deadline.

Addressing the House on May 9, Young pushed the Full Faith & Credit Act, which he said “Would make default impossible.” He acknowledged that this is the third time since he joined the House in January 2011 he has faced a debt ceiling showdown.

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