President Obama today said he would refuse to accept a short term increase in the debt ceiling – even one as long as six months – raising the pressure on Republicans to bargain toward the kind of robust deal he favors that would find $4 trillion in savings through spending cuts and tax increases.
Republicans have said “no thanks,” and want an agreement on about $2.5 trillion in savings that would not include tax increases.
So Republicans, having threatened economic armageddon unless they get what they want, are now faced with a president willing to give it to them. And Obama, who sends his deputies forth daily to describe the calamitous consequences of failing to raise the debt ceiling, now says he won’t do it unless he gets what he wants.
And each side says the other is playing politics.
With the mutual game of chicken coming home to roost, desperate politicians are now emitting rhetoric that is increasingly divorced from reality and their own previous opinions.
Obama, who spoke today a press conference in the White House briefing room, evinced an inconsistency so spectacular that it begs the question of whether he has any thought these days except the politics of the moment.
Where to begin?
After insisting until just a couple of months ago on a “clean” increase in the debt ceiling that would extend government operations through 2012, he now says he won’t agree to even a short term increase unless Republicans agree to vast deficit reduction measures. It’s a mind boggling change of position.
And how about this triple meat whopper?
If we think it’s going to be hard — if we think it’s hard now, imagine how these guys are going to be thinking six months from now in the middle of election season where they’re all up. It’s not going to get easier. It’s going to get harder. So we might as well do it now — pull off the Band-Aid; eat our peas.
Eat our peas? But until just a few weeks ago, it was White House policy not to use the debt ceiling to cut spending – but to instead wait until the annual budget train wreck, which would have started in late October and continued right through the Iowa Caucuses.
And lets look at how he put it:
The things that I will not consider are a 30-day or a 60-day or a 90-day or a 180-day temporary stopgap resolution to this problem. This is the United States of America, and we don’t manage our affairs in three-month increments.
Well, gosh, we sure do. How about the several weeks-long continuing resolutions he signed as budget negotiations dragged from last last year into this one.
And somebody explain to me the consistency of passing an $800 billion stimulus package to boost the economy in 2009 and now, while the economy is still struggling, agreeing to trillions in budget cuts. Please explain to me the novel economic theory that undergirds such an idea.
And then he put the frosting on the multilayer cake of absurdity he had baked:
And this is part of the problem with a political process where folks are rewarded for saying irresponsible things to win elections or obtain short-term political gain.
Yes, he knows all about such a political process. But so do Republican leaders.
“Nobody is talking about not raising the debt ceiling,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Fox News Sunday.
Really? I thought that was the premise of the Republican position. Boy, talk about having your cake and eating it. If Republicans think reducing the deficit is worth risking a U.S. default, then they need to be honest about the path they’ve put us on. They’ve said they are willing to destroy the village in order to save it. So own up to it.
And Obama in his remarks today had a point about the need to compromise in a divided government. Republicans, who control only the House, are insisting that their position against any tax increases at all must prevail.
Obama noted high mindedly that, you know, this is still a democracy, and people have to give in a little. This is true, except that it was also true when Obama rammed a sweeping overhaul of the nations health care through Congress on a party line vote.
Ahh, Washington. Maybe Obama’s eleves are still are doing some secret work on hope to give us for Christmas. Because they’ve certainly failed to create change.