Every now and then, fables from our past come back to either haunt us or remind us of something. I am sure you remember the story about the kid who got so mad he picked up his marbles and took them home.
Today, we have the perfect example of this strategy in plain sight – and if the president has the numbers, it may work for him.
President Barack Obama seems to have given up on politics, and he’s swinging right into dictatorship. Obama phoned House Speaker John Boehner, Friday night, to tell him that it is his way or the highway, and he will not compromise or negotiate with Congress on raising the debt limit. Politics used to be all about negotiation and compromise, for the public good, but since we got “Change,” there is little “Hope” that definition will hold up.
Wagging The Presidential Finger
Looking back in recent presidential history, I don’t see another time this has happened. From what was apparently the serious tone of the warning, you can probably imagine Obama pointing and wagging his finger at the phone, to Boehner.
A spokesman for Speaker Boehner spilled the beans on what happened during the call. “The president called the speaker this evening to tell him he wouldn’t negotiate with him on the debt limit. Given the long history of using debt limit increases to achieve bipartisan deficit reduction and economic reforms, the speaker was disappointed, but told the president that the two chambers of Congress will chart the path ahead. It was a brief call.”
“It was a brief call” – well, that seems obvious. If you call someone to give them an ultimatum, you wouldn’t want to give them a chance to negotiate over the phone, would you?
Around the same time, the White House says president Obama also phoned Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader. She is thought to be the mastermind behind the midnight vote to approve Obamacare back in 2010 – that was the bill they had to vote on, so they could see what was in it.
An administration official said, “The president telephoned Speaker Boehner and told him again that the full faith and credit of the United States should not and will not be subject to negotiation. The president reiterated that it is the constitutional responsibility of the U.S. Congress to pass the nation’s budget and pay the nation’s bills.”
Yeah, right – the president racks up debt and then wants someone else to go along with it, without question.
Not to be outdone, the House passed a bill to temporarily finance the federal government while defunding Obamacare. It passed 230-189, so we already know the Senate and the White House will be working to shoot it down in flames.
The US government’s debt limit is currently $16.7 trillion – and that isn’t enough – they want more. House Republicans told media they are prepared to present legislation to raise it further, presumably “to safeguard the full faith and credit of the United States.”
The prevailing theory in Washington is that Republicans want to get House and Senate Democrats on record with final votes that will seal them into a corner next year when midterm elections are held. By then, Obamacare will have had 10 months of solid activity within the public domain.
Can Election Result Overcome Operational Embarrassments?
It could be that president Obama thinks his victory in last November’s presidential elections can overcome the embarrassing scandals, that aren’t being allowed to be swept under the carpet – Benghazi, IRS targeting conservatives, ‘Fast and Furious,’ Syria, spying on news reporters, Americans and Russia, etc.
Should the debt limit not be raised by the end of October, the borrowing authority of the U.S. government will be zero. If there was a US federal default, it would be the first in our history, and it would be catastrophic. It obviously will not happen, because “someone” will compromise and give in.
The knives are out, and there is a lot of thrusting and parrying going on.
The White House is likely working on a strategy now to blame the whole thing on Republicans.
On the Republican side, Boehner mentioned Obama’s willingness to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Syrian chemical weapons, contrasting that with his refusal to negotiate with him. Boehner said “Why is the Obama administration willing to negotiate with Putin on Syria, but not with Congress to address Washington’s spending problem?”
Manufacturing Problems Or Creating Jobs?
Some surmise that the president is badly weakened, and he is manufacturing a problem, as a way of rallying his own troops. It would be much better if he would manufacture some jobs instead.
The really big question is who will the American public believe? Republican leaders are on record as saying they do not want a default. In 2011, Obama did negotiate, and the debt limit was extended. It could be that either he didn’t like the result he got, or maybe he is just using this threat as leverage to stick it to republicans.
I expect the political fight ahead will be ugly, as each side digs in its heels and ultra-partisan politics rears its ugly head.