The debt ceiling debate in the nation's capital keeps changing by the hour, "and I'm just trying to listen and watch," said S.C. Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, on Friday afternoon. Sure enough, within hours major news emerged. The U.S. House approved legislation that would provide a short-term debt ceiling increase combined with $917 billion in spending cuts. However, the Republican-backed measure quickly went down to defeat in the Democratic majority Senate - in large part because it demands a constitutional balanced budget amendment to be sent to the states before any future increases in the debt ceiling. Negotiations toward a compromise will proceed over the weekend. The deadline to raise the ceiling before a potential default is Tuesday. However, discussions may be under way to extend the deadline by two more days. House Speaker John Boehner had hoped to get an earlier plan approved Thursday. But resistance from many Republicans - including all five of South Carolina's GOP congressional members - forced him to abandon that vote and come up with the alternative plan Friday. Taylor praised the South Carolinians' efforts to resist the pressure from veteran Republican leaders. "These are real conservatives who ran on a platform to cut spending," Taylor said. "They are true patriots and working hard. If they weren't doing this along with other conservatives, we would have had a deal done long ago with much higher spending caps and no cuts in spending." Taylor does applaud the Republicans for trying to come up a plan. The president has shown no leadership, and the Democratic Congress hasn't had a budget in 900 days, he said. "President Obama fears losing our credit rating and having it downgraded," said Taylor. "Many of us are more worried about losing our country because of the financial situation. I would rather have a financial storm now rather than a cataclysmic event a few years from now." Claude O'Donovan, the Aiken County Republican Party vice chairman, wants to see Congress approve the "Cut, Cap and Balance" proposal. That would cap and lower spending over the next few years, then work in the balanced-budget amendment. "But it's so darned complex," O'Donovan acknowledged. "Is there a possibility of default? Many say if we default, it won't do all the bad things like stop Social Security checks. But there are so many warning flags that the results would be catastrophic with the credit rating going down and interest rates going up. It could be a no-win situation. But at some point, enough is enough." Washington lawmakers need to stop politicking and start governing, said Harold Crawford, chairman of the Aiken County Democratic Party. The issues should have been resolved long ago, he said. The debt ceiling has been routinely increased on a regular basis, Crawford said, and all of a sudden, the Republicans will only do it with spending cuts and no revenue increases. "It's all because we have this president and now they have to do things differently than before," Crawford said. "It's a shame it has to be that way, and it's not going to change until hell freezes over. It's a sad indictment on our country." The debt ceiling is about paying the nation's bills, not about paying its debts, Crawford said. "We don't have to tie them together," he said. "This is hurting the general population, whether they're little or big people. But if we go into default and interest rates skyrocket, it will have a disproportionately greater impact on those who have less. It's always the little guy who gets beat up." Two other Republican legislators, Roland Smith of Warrenville and Bill Hixon of North Augusta, support the concept of a balanced-budget amendment. While Congress needs to avoid a default, Smith expects to see the country's credit rating downgraded because of the huge debt the U.S. already has. "We can't continue to raise the debt, and have to put the brakes on," Smith said. "South Carolina has to have a balanced budget. The U.S. needs to cut some of the things that need to be cut. We can still fund necessities and set priorities. The country won't get better and businesses won't start hiring if we keep borrowing ourselves into debt." Hixon said he talked with an elderly woman this week who is afraid she will lose her Social Security checks. "All that is scare tactics," he said. "People will get their checks. And before they start cutting poor folks, we need to cut congressional salaries and cut foreign aid before we hurt people inside the U.S. We couldn't run our businesses like the U.S. government is being run." Congress will not a allow a default to happen, said S.C. Rep. Bill Clyburn, D-Aiken. "But I just hate to see people frightened by what appears to be a threat to our way of life," he said. "What troubles me is that the rating could go down anyway. There's a lot of fear outside our country, as a lot of people look up to America. You don't want them wondering if we're going to pay our debts." It's time for people in Washington to stop looking at their party affiliations, Clyburn said. "We just want them to be Americans," he said. Contact Rob Novit 644-2391.