Perhaps sensing Republican weakness, President Obama reversed himself and is pushing back against short-term debt ceiling hike, stressing in his weekly address released this morning what a bad idea it would be.
It wouldn’t be wise, as some suggest, to just kick the debt ceiling can down the road for a couple months, and flirt with a first-ever intentional default right in the middle of the holiday shopping season.
After the GOP was offfered earlier this week what I described as a cave-in by Obama – a willingness to accept a short term debt ceiling increase while negotiations Obama has previously rejected kicked in – Republicans failed to act, dithering for days and failing to forge a unified position between their House and Senate caucuses.
Instead, sloppy Republican leadership allowed competing proposals to emerge from the House and Senate, with a Senate plan that would extend government financing for six months and raise the debt ceiling through January 2014. House Republicans sought to raise the debt limit until the week before Thanksgiving.
As any general knows, when your opposition is divided, you win. Obama acted smartly to abet the divisions among Republicans by inviting them separately to the White House. At his meeting with GOP senators, Republicans were reduced to asking Obama what was in the House plan.
What a joke. Republicans should have gotten their act together and insisted on a meeting between House and Senate GOP leaders and the president. This would have made sense unless, of course, House Speaker John Boehner was never serious about the House position to begin with . . .
Obama had suggested just Tuesday that the debt ceiling need only be raised “for the period of time in which these negotiations are taking place.” White House National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling the day before had indicated the increase could cover as little as two or three weeks.
A debt ceiling hike through January 2014 is not a catastrophe for the GOP. It still provides three and a half months of pressure to strike deals on limiting spending and and making changes to Obamacare. But with Obamacare entrenched at that point for four months, it seems the goal of delaying it for a year would be off the table.
Here’s Obama’s weekly address.