President Obama’s press conference yesterday indicated two important things: (1.) that a failure to reach a debt ceiling agreement is a real possibility, and (2.) that the president honed his governing skills on the Obamacare debacle–once again, the president has set a phony deadline and aims to ram something through Congress before the Congress, much less the public, is able to debate it. Striking an air of weariness at being the only adult in the room, the president issued an ultimatum:
I will not sign a 30-day or a 60-day or a 90-day extension. That is just not an acceptable approach.
Commentary blogger Rick Richman points out the rich irony of this ultimatum’s coming from the guy who ordered congressional negotiators to leave their ultimatums at the door when they came to meet with him about the debt ceiling. Richman–who also noticed the Obamacare parallel–pointed out that such an extension “is the only approach that would allow the American people to weigh-in on this process.” But that is the point: the president doesn’t necessarily want the public to weigh in on the debate. He wants higher taxes.
The media hive has of course developed a meme to cope with this impasse: it’s the Tea Party’s fault! If only they would let that nice Speaker Boehner negotiate to raise taxes, everything would be okay. (I give Boehner more credit than that.) A secondary media hive meme: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is stopping progress just because of some dogmatic ol’ ideas about taxes. Here is the lead to a story on Cantor in today’s Washington Post:
The negotiating tactics of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor would probably make him lousy at selling cars. But as Congress and the president try to strike a deal on the national debt, they have made Cantor a hero to ardent anti-spending conservatives.
Cantor (R-Va.) thinks the way to win this haggling session – one of Washington’s most important in years – is by walking out of it….
Where Boehner has sought to define what Republicans can do with their newfound power, Cantor, the House’s ambitious No. 2, wants to underline what Republicans would never do.
Message: Bad Eric won’t let nice Mr. Boehner raise taxes on people with corporate jets.
I hope that the Republicans will stand firm because nobody’s taxes should be raised to support the stupid spending in Washington. Even those evil enough to fly around in corporate jets don’t deserve to pick up the costs for the money wasted by the government.
Since spending defines Democrats–we need more programs!–this is a defining moment for our country. Believe me, I do not want the government to default. But Republicans have got to begin informing the public that the government has vast resources so that, if the deal is not reached in time, the administration gets to decide which bills are paid. If Social Security benefits aren’t paid, it will be the administration’s decision.
There was an intriguing suggestion last night on TV that the government could raise money by selling some of the land it owns. Republicans should talk about just such a flea sale! That is what families do to raise money-why not Uncle Sam?