Everyone is painfully aware that at this point it is all about posturing for the 2012 election for President Obama. The evidence is the insistence now that the deal be a long term deal by President Obama.
Former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin said this:
“Look, to my eye this has all been political. The desire to get to 2013 can get wrapped in economic clothing but it’s fundamentally a political argument. The president doesn’t want to talk about his record of debt between now and the election and everyone knows that. They had a deal. And the deal was sitting there, waiting to be taken, and at the moment when they could get the deal they pushed for more taxes, which is a political argument at the expense of less entitlement reform, which is the substantive problem.”
Traditionally, the debt ceiling is raised for the short term. The GOP plan has it raised through the end of 2011. For Obama to insist on one that is good through the election in 2012 is exactly as it appears - pure politics and his re-election campaign.
Barack Obama asked for and received prime time television coverage for his address to the nation on the debt ceiling discussions. Every time he addresses the nation on this matter, his poll numbers go down. It will be interesting to see if he did himself any good Monday night. Make no mistake - this was all about Barack Obama's campaign for re-election.
Obama realized that sitting on the sidelines and demanding Congress solve the problem of raising the debt ceiling didn't play well with the American people. So, he wants to appear relevant, thus the press conferences and the campaign speeches including the topic as he goes to large audiences - as he did Monday afternoon with the La Raza group.
It was a wedge driving speech, the Obama speech. He started off re-hashing the blame Bush approach and then tried to rectify this fiasco of a stimulus plan that didn't work. Then he went into the real consequences of no deal forthcoming as he tried the scare tactics. He lied about the House Republicans, which is his habit, and proclaimed that they wanted nothing short of deep spending cuts only and "harsh cuts to Medicare." Cue the DNC commercial of granny going over a cliff in her wheelchair.
He supports the Reid approach though he seemed a bit confused about it. He continued on with the riff about "shared sacrifices" and "revenues" must be raised but the Reid plan doesn't include revenue raising. Neither does the Boehner approach. It was as though Obama didn't understand what had been hashed out in the two plans over the weekend. He also lied about the Reid plan being the one Boehner walked out on Friday.
Obama made the obligatory references to corporate jet owners and big oil companies and then "people like me" who didn't ask for or want tax breaks. He said "patriotic" Americans are "willing to pitch in". So, if you are a fiscal conservative who believes the money you earn is, in fact, your money and not the government's, well, you are not patriotic. Nice.
He used the Reagan quote, of which he is quite fond lately, and then failed to note that he and every other Senate Democrat voted against raising the debt ceiling in 2007 when GW Bush was in office. Wonder why he didn't include that tidbit?
He has no plan. He doesn't understand economics. He pulls imaginary dates and numbers from the sky and declares them as the gospel truth. He is quite the speechifier. His numbers have never been lower.
Speaker Boehner answered in a short response. He began with "I serve as Speaker of the whole House", which separated his tone from that of the class warfare, wedge driving Obama speech. He noted a long held belief that "the bigger the government, the smaller the people." True that.
He calmly recanted the timeline of negotiations and made note that as the deal was on the table Friday, Obama added additional 'revenues' and thus went back on the agreed to plan. He said Obama "wouldn't accept yes as an answer" and blew the deal up with his last hour inclusion of additional taxing.
The House Republicans - those who Obama vilifies at every opportunity - are the only ones who have produced plans and legislation to be voted on. They passed Cut, Cap and Balance just last week - with some bi-partisan support. The Democrats in the Senate haven't even bothered to produce a budget in almost 900 days. The budget last voted on - submitted by Obama - was voted down unanimously in the Senate. Unanimously. Now that is bi-partisan!
Obama was playing to Independents. He failed miserably. Independents have moved past finger pointing and bare knuckled partisan politics, especially from the guy at the top hoping to get re-elected for a second term as President. Obama still hasn't fully grasped that fact.
Obama desperately does not want to be the first president to allow a government default on his watch. He's headed in that direction.