It’s amateur hour in the White House briefing room, starring Pres. Obama, because he naively bet his whole position on the premise that he could serve up entitlements to seduce Republicans into making him look good with Independents, but instead gets caught in the age old Republican stiff-arm, which hit Obama and his team in the face like a fire hydrant breaking open on a smoldering summer city street. But instead of getting cooled off by the blast it sent Pres. Obama into orbit. Whenever you see him as pissed off as he was on Friday night you can bet he’s worried about his own political hide.
That the President decided to storm into the briefing room after the market closed simply sends a warning shot to Wall Street that they have the weekend to get on the phone and make Speaker Boehner and the Republican House Tea Party caucus come to their senses, because once the morning bell clangs all bets are off.
John Podhoretz offers the Republican line:
Perhaps for the first time in American history, this president is literally using this press conference to create a financial panic over the weekend about the opening of the markets on Monday. He is warning of disaster on Monday. Clearly, he wants to use this as leverage to frighten the GOP into passing the plan proposed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, which will push the debt ceiling problem into 2013, but it’s still an entirely new and astonishingly reckless gambit.
Even though it’s the House Republicans who set up the dynamic that they needed something in return for raising the debt ceiling, it was the White House who made the mistake of accepting this demand as the premise, because these guys were never going to deal.
Whether it’s Grover Norquist, Eric Cantor or the Tea Party, backed by Rush Limbaugh and other conservative bloviators, or simply Mitch McConnell’s promise to make Barack Obama a one-term president, it was all about setting the President up. McConnell’s devious plan was simply to make sure that what many saw as inevitable came with a fail safe switch, because as a seasoned politician he could see it a mile away, as did Harry Reid, which is why Reid scoffed at the Gang of 6 being able to make the White House imposed deadline. Pres. Obama may end up actually being grateful for McConnell’s gambit and for good reasons.
It took way too long, but the White House has finally realized that if Republicans don’t deal it’s Pres. Obama who takes the blame, because he’s the president at the helm at the time of default, something that must never be allowed to happen. It’s just the White House can’t come to grips with what it may take to keep default from happening. If they’d accepted this from the outset all of this high drama wouldn’t have been necessary.
The 14th Amendment is a red herring, however; even if its debt provision did not exist, the president would derive authority from his paramount duty to ward off serious threats to the constitutional and economic system. — Obama Should Raise the Debt Ceiling on His Own
This is seen as the worst option possible, because it leaves Barack Obama out there all alone, something anathema to many politicians, but as an act of loan responsibility is something Barack Obama abhors to the point of phobia.
Meanwhile, the argument from the Right is that no one should be surprised that new House members are doing exactly what they pledged to do when they were elected in the 2010 midterms. Their story is they’re principled and they’re sticking to it, no matter how ridiculous. Trouble is it’s believable, because unlike traditional pols the Tea Party rabble could care less about outcome and are more than willing to go home with their wild ideological notions intact.
In contrast, Pres. Obama is trying to make a deal by serving up foundational tenets of the Democratic Party’s coveted safety net revealing no core ideological principles, which he’s never had, except a deal for the sake of his own marketing or reelection purposes. The outcome being a story antithetical to anything Democrats and progressives elected him to do, with the added insult that Obama has gone against what he himself promised to protect.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi acknowledged Friday that Democrats may reluctantly accept a last-minute compromise to avoid a default that involves up to $2.5 trillion in spending cuts — without agreed-upon new tax revenues — if Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are protected from the debt limit brinksmanship. – Pelosi Outlines Revenue-Free Path Forward On Debt Limit Fight, by Brian Beutler
Once again, just like on health care, even House Minority Leader Pelosi caved. In the Obama era this has become a Democratic epidemic.
That Pres. Obama was willing to bargain Social Security and Medicare in a simple debt ceiling argument and did so without any guarantees from House Republicans reveals a craven and unprincipled bargaining strategy that leaves Pres. Obama with few friends on the Democratic side, even though everyone sees the callous conservatism of the new right-wing, which doesn’t represent the ’90s or the ’80s that Obama and the White House was basing their negotiating strategy upon.
Pres. Obama walked into a trap as old as the Reagan revolution, an era Obama loves to invoke but simply has never understood. The only job of the Republican Party as they see it is to keep Democrats from holding power and when they happen to get it make sure it’s not for long, no matter what it takes to succeed.
Obama’s just making it easier for them by alienating people who helped get him elected.
It’s time for Pres. Obama to simply act like the president and do what he has to. Invoke the 14 Amendment and put to the test what he believes to be true. That in the end We the People will see his reasonableness against the Republicans’ ideological wingnut crackpotism, by simply stating, “I did all I could, but the one thing I wouldn’t do is allow this country to go into default.”
Then let the chips fall where they may.
It might even work, too.
It would certainly be the first principled move Pres. Obama has made since the entire debt ceiling money gunfight began. But Obama doesn’t do principle, he uses them to beat his base over the head.