Ford O’Connell At S.F. Chronicle On The Debt Ceiling, The Tea Party And Nancy Pelosi

Tea Party-backed House Republicans who drove Nancy Pelosi from the speakership last year may inadvertently be handing the San Francisco Democrat significant leverage to protect liberal priorities in the dramatic endgame over raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

“It all boils down to whether or not the Tea Party folks are going to continue to hold the line,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “Will they stand down and recognize a political victory, or are they going to push it further? And if they push far enough, they could wind up with political suicide.”

A GOP failure to pass Boehner’s plan would deal a devastating blow to Republicans by depriving them of a negotiating platform against Senate Democrats and the White House. Even if the bill passes, it becomes only the Republican starting point in negotiations with the Senate and White House on a final compromise that can pass both chambers. The Senate plan is also not expected to pass.

“That is where her greatest bargaining power is,” O’Connell said. “Obviously she could be seen as a leader. … Nancy Pelosi wants to be speaker again, and if she’s seen as a victor in this process, holding on to the House is not an absolute for Republicans” in next year’s election.

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