We do not elect people to national office so they can make us feel helpless. We don’t knowingly send men and women to Washington to toy with our finances. And yet here we are, up bright and early this morning, wondering if our retirement funds, the product of years of work and scrimping, will take a hit when the market opens because bozos in Washington can’t act in our behalf on the debt celing.
The kind of brinkmanship going on right now has become commonplace in Washington. It may give members of Congress memories for their scraboooks, but it is worrying the rest of us more than a government should in normal times. We are always in crisis, always on or appearing to be on the precipice (think midnight votes on Obamacare). I cannot escape the feeling that President Obama is willing to go into default. The Wall Street Journal says he is “toying with default:”
Barack Obama was in full-scold mode Friday night, summoning Congressional leaders to the White House to “explain to me how it is that we are going to avoid default.” It’s a terrific question, albeit one the President refuses to answer. He remains far more interested in maneuvering to blame a default or credit downgrade on Republicans than in making himself part of any plausible solution to a crisis he insists is imminent.
I am angrier at the president, who has said he has “excess” income that needs to be taxed more heavily (bully for him–I don’t have excess money, and the market failure with which he is flirting is a damned serious matter for me), than the GOP. The Republicans do appear to be trying to do something, while the president doesn’t appears to be doing nothing but talking. He is talking the country to death. Somebody buy that man a fiddle! The Journal notes:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who figured out earlier than most that the President wasn’t serious, long ago turned to crafting a deal within Congress. He’s now been joined by John Boehner, who was prepared to take political risks to reach for the “big deal” only to tire of White House antics. Now House Republicans and Senate Democrats are each working to craft their own plans, and it says something that the country has a better shot of getting something out of a divided Congress than it does out of the Oval Office.
Then again, it has long been clear that Mr. Obama isn’t interested in spending reform. In February he proposed a budget that spent more than any in U.S. history. In April he demanded that Congress pass a “clean” debt ceiling hike that included no spending cuts whatsoever. Only after House Republicans unveiled their own sweeping budgetary reforms did the White House rush to also claim it wanted deficit reduction as part of the debt-ceiling debate.
The President insists his party is offering serious spending cuts and entitlement reform. He also likes to talk about “balance,” which to him means real tax increases immediately and speculative spending cuts some time in the distant future. Behind the scenes the White House has only ever agreed to token reform and cuts. Here’s a number for the debt history books: Mr. Obama’s final offer in the Biden talks was a $2 billion cut in 2012 nondefense discretionary spending. The federal government spends more than $10 billion a day.
Mr. Boehner reached out to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this weekend, only to have Democrats continue to insist any deal include a sweeping debt ceiling increase that provides the White House with political cover through the 2012 election….
Jennifer Rubin-this is a woman who has developed fabulous sources!-has an inside report on what Speaker John Boehner told the House Republicans:
I went on “Fox News Sunday” this morning because it was the most effective way to tell everyone where things stand. It boils down to this: The president wants his $2.4 trillion debt limit increase all at once, without any guarantees that we’re going to cut more than $2.4 trillion in spending. The administration says they have to have it all upfront so we don’t have to deal with this again until after the next election. You heard the president say that himself on TV the other night.
We’ve seen this coming all year long. But here’s the challenge: To stop him, we need a vehicle that can pass in both houses….
The White House has never gotten serious about tackling the serious issues our nation faces – not without tax hikes – and I don’t think they ever will. The path forward, I believe, is that we pull together as a team behind a new measure that has a shot at getting to the president’s desk. It’s won’t be Cut, Cap & Balance as we passed it, but it should be a package that reflects the principles of Cut, Cap & Balance. We’re committed to working with you – and with our Republican colleagues in the Senate – to get it done. No one is willing to default on the full faith and credit of the United States.