I have a new level of respect for Speaker of the House John Boehner. Instead of allowing President Obama and the Democrats in the debt ceiling negotiations walk all over him and "move the goal posts" at the eleventh hour of talks, he walked.
Speaker Boehner had a point to make and he did it. By insisting on a last minute demand of $400 billion in additional 'revenue' (taxes), Obama moved the goal posts from the deal on the table. Bad enough that the cuts being agreed upon - $1 trillion over ten years - are a drop in the bucket. Further demands of taxes are unacceptable.
This was then Senator Barack Obama speaking on the floor of the Senate in 2006:
The fact that we're here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign -- is a sign of leadership failure. Leadership means the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt limit.
The vote Obama was opposing was by no means a certain outcome. It passed by 52 to 48. Which goes to show the previous partisan posturing of Democrats during the last Bush term. Every Democrat in the Senate voted against raising the debt ceiling when President Bush requested it in 2006. It is important to remember that a politician is always thinking of the next election. In this case, it was a very junior senator from Illinois - in his rookie year of service - who was considering a run for the Presidency despite his complete lack of experience at the national level.
Obama again stated that the debt ceiling was raised 18 times during the Reagan administration. He didn't, however, bring up his own opposition to the same debt ceiling being raised in 2006.
So, when the talks collapsed and Speaker Boehner stated that he would no longer be working with President Obama on this, instead working with Senator McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Reid, President Obama took his case to the White House press corps, his buddies.
First Obama spoke of the deal that collapsed:
Obama revealed that Republicans had agreed to a roughly four-to-one ratio of spending cuts to tax increases in the deal, under the proviso that the new tax revenue come only from the elimination of subsidies and other deductions. But Boehner balked when the president demanded that tax increases at least match the amount to be cut from entitlement programs.
Saying that Washington has “now run out of time” to reach a major deal on the debt ceiling, Obama has summoned Republican and Democratic congressional leaders to a White House meeting set for 11:00 A.M. on Saturday. He warned that the two sides must be able to show progress towards a deal by the time markets open on Monday.
He continued on with criticizing House Republicans and Boehner by name as not willing to get the job done. He claimed Boehner could not wrangle the Tea Party members to agree to anything. He bellowed a lot about how put upon he is with the whole process. He asked of the GOP, "Can they say yes to anything?"
Then as Boehner countered with his own press conference, he confirmed the deal that was to be and then the reason of the collapse:
At a press conference just now, House Speaker John Boehner confirmed that Republican leadership had agreed to some $800 billion in revenue as part of a deal with the White House, but said that President Obama yesterday made a last-minute demand for an additional $400 billion, which Boehner said would have had to have come from “raising taxes . . . on job-creators.” Boehner also said that he was “not really interested” in a short-term debt-ceiling increase, but instead work with bipartisan leaders in the Senate on a long-term solution.
So, there it is. Obama 'summoned' the leaders of both parties to the White House at 11:00 AM Saturday to tell him how the problem will be solved at this late hour. He admitted he is clueless, basically. Though he wants to be the adult in the room, he continues to fall short of that goal. Obama's press conference benefited from the willing puppets in the White House press corps and their softball questions. They are only too willing to go along with the meme that it is those mean Republicans in the House who will not compromise. And, by compromise, they mean capitulate.
Boehner, the actual adult in the room, stated that he would not get into the partisan sniping heard earlier - meaning the Obama press conference. He calmly articulated his position and said he would continue to work with leaders. He reiterated that the government will not be allowed to default on our debts.
Let's remember, as all his back and forth settles in, that it was Barack Obama who first walked out of a session of negotiations. It was Barack Obama who told Eric Cantor to "not call my bluff", and got up and left the room. In contrast, the House GOP,since taking the majority in January 2011, put Paul Ryan's plan to a vote, passed a budget and passed Cut, Cap and Balance. The Democrats in the Senate are approaching 900 days without a budget submitted. The last budget submitted by Obama this year was voted down unanimously in the Senate. Unanimously. Obama has not put forward his own plan. Ever. He continues to punt and wait for Congress to do his work.
So, to President Obama's question as to if the GOP can say yes to anything - the reply is, yes, we can.
Where is the leadership, President Obama asks? Right back at him, we can ask.
And, Obama would do well to remember that the branches of government are co-equals.