Democrats think they have the political advantage because Republicans will look like they're defending the rich with their insistence that the deal not include any tax hikes, even on the wealthiest Americans.
"They are risking catastrophe for the world economy over tax cuts for Bill Gates' corporate jets," said one Democratic lawmaker. "Republicans want to increase co-pays for home health care patients but refuse a single penny of increased taxes for millionaires? I'll take that fight," said another Democratic Congressional Insider.
Democrats also think Republicans will appear intransigent because President Obama is willing to accept significant spending cuts as part of any agreement. "Republicans' unwillingness to participate in the give and take of governing to do what's right is showing through and they will face the brunt of the public's wrath if a deal isn't reached in time," said one Democratic Member. Said another, "Obama is a lousy negotiator, but Republicans can't take 'yes' for an answer."
Republican Members on the other hand said that Democrats will suffer more because Obama "owns" the economy. "This is President Obama's economy," said one GOP Congressional Insider. "He owns it, and he's responsible for any fallout." Echoed another, "Truman kept 'The Buck Stops Here' sign in the Oval Office--not in the House of Representatives."
Republicans also believe they are more in sync with the public's mood on the issue. "The statistics are consistent that roughly two-thirds of Americans don't think the debt ceiling should be raised at all," noted one Republican Congressional Insider. "So, GOP opposition to raising the debt ceiling without strict conditions is aligned with the will of the American people."
Still, a few Republican lawmakers had their doubts over which party wins in a showdown. "No matter what, we have to raise the ceiling," said one Republican Member. "And if we only listen to the extreme of our party we lose independents and mainstream R's." Added another, "We just don't have the same media platform to place the blame that the President has."
The National Journal Congressional Insiders Poll is a regular anonymous survey of Democratic and Republican members of Congress.