With the Dow dropping faster than the New York Times' circulation, and the S&P downgrading the country's credit for not cutting enough government bloat from the deficit, the "no" vote by Congressman Scott Tipton on the debt ceiling deal is looking smarter by the day. While Tipton has stumbled at times in his first six months in office, his vote in opposition of the debt ceiling debacle may be a sign that he is learning.

The deal was so widely reviled by all quarters that President Obama signed the legislation in private. No one tried to claim credit for it and that virtually never happens in Washington.

Democrats had predicted that if the debt ceiling wasn't raised on August 2nd economic armageddon would descend upon America. Well, a deal did pass, and the massive stock sell-off certainly seems similar to financial armaggedon. And Tipton can be blamed for none of it. 

A vote against a bill that precipitates an endless stream of negative economic news is a sage one indeed. 

Tipton did vote for a debt deal, just not the monstrosity of a bill, super Congress and all, that made it through Congress. According to Tipton's comments to the Colorado Statesman recently, the sticking point for his support was a balanced budget amendment. Barring that, Tipton would not support a deal. 

A balanced budget amendment is something that liberals revile because it will constitutionally keep spending in check, but it polls extremely well among independent voters. A Mason-Dixon poll at the end of May found 68% of independent voters in support of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget.

It's such an easy policy position to advocate for, you'd almost think Frank Luntz came up with it. Who opposes a balanced budget? Every American has to balance their own family's budget, leaving most voters scratching their heads as to why politicians in the nation's Capitol don't have to.

Tipton's seemingly new smart messaging tack also played out in his town hall last Friday. Rather than hide from the public during the August Congressional recess, which hurt his predecessor John Salazar in a major way, Tipton has chosen to engage openly and honestly with constituents. 

From the Colorado Statesman write-up:

To take questions, his staff had handed out raffle-type tickets to all comers at the door and numbers were drawn to select questioners, a move praised by Karl Castleton, co-chair of the Mesa County Democrats and local Republican officials.  

Tipton, asked whether the nastiness of the debt-ceiling debate could be overcome so both parties would be able to work together, pointed to a bill he is carrying with Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden, to bolster small business.

Maybe earlier this year Tipton was just working out his freshman kinks, but it appears the specter of a campaign challenge from either a well-funded doctor or the sitting House Minority Leader has put Tipton back on his feet.

Tipton's turn around comes at just the right time politically, with two potential opponents ramping up their campaigns and national Democrat groups running ads full of lies hammering him on the airwaves.

A smart, well spoken Tipton will be nearly impossible to beat in a GOP-leaning district with a reviled President atop the ticket. With Tipton learning to vote presciently and keeping his foot out of his mouth, Sal Pace's uphill battle just got a lot harder.