(CBS News) Republicans in Congress have picked the wrong fight in threatening default on the government's loans if President Obama continues to push raising the debt ceiling, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., said today on "CBS This Morning," arguing, "in the end, it's a fight they can't sustain."
"No one is going to default," he said. "No one is going to allow the United States to not pay its bills. No one is going to accept the economic costs. It rallies the entire business community to the president's side.
"And the fact is," Gingrich continued, "the Republicans have two much better arenas in which to fight over spending: They have a continuing resolution which funds government, which comes up at the end of March. And they have the sequester, which automatically cuts spending unless it's dealt with. And those two fronts they can fight, and they have much less resistance from the average American, and it's much harder for the president to oppose them."
In the next several weeks, three fiscal issues are likely to dominate Washington: The U.S. Treasury Department is expected to reach its $16.4 trillion debt limit by late February of early March, the $1.2 trillion in "sequester" cuts are set to be triggered on March 1, and the "continuing resolution" that funds the government is set to expire March 27.
Gingrich said he believes the president is "wrong" in refusing to fall in line with the GOP's call to match every dollar the debt ceiling is raised with one dollar of spending cuts -- "I think he's going out of his way to bully House Republicans," he said. But, he reiterated, "I don't think we should pick fights where we're in a position that we can't in fact in the end enforce our will because we have no evidence that Barack Obama's going to compromise."
"...Asking Barack Obama not to be a big-spending, high-taxing liberal is a denial of everything we're learned about him in his career," Gingrich continued.
Still, CBS News' chief White House correspondent Major Garrett reports that House Republicans, like Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, continue to say Mr. Obama will have to negotiate, or preside over default.
"The president has to realize that the Republicans believe strongly that you can't keep spending money country doesn't have," Chaffetz told CBS News. "If the growth of entitlements continues at a rapid pace, we're gonna have to come to that realization but we're gonna have to quit spending money and try to cut into this deficit."