Saturday, July 30, 2011

Obama's All Nighters... and GOP Full Mooners

By Mary Claire Kendall

As I re-read this column, originally published on July 15, in retrospect, it seems so clear how politicizing the process is not the path to economic recovery, job creation and, fiscal and monetary stability - which Maureen Dowd reflected in her recent column, “Sleeping Barry Awakes.”  Leadership is what's needed!                                                                                                         - Mary Claire Kendall, September 13, 2011

Barack Obama and John Boehner
Washington, DC, July 15, 2011“If not now, when?” President Barack Obama asked in his press conference on Monday, July 11th —once again coming down from Mount Olympus to upbraid recalcitrant Republicans.

Just days before Congress needs a deal—so it can write and pass the bill approving an increase in the debt limit by August 2, lest America default—the President is insisting the time is now to get the “big deal” to ensure we spend within our means, the lack of which will mean no deal.

Do you get the feeling that instead of getting his homework in a day early—a failure for which he taunted Republicans in his June 29th press conference—Obama is pulling all-nighters, producing the predictable unsatisfactory results?

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) called the situation “urgent” and “dire” and said, “Mr. President, let’s forget about the next election… and let's get serious about doing what's right for the country.”

In this regard, Boehner, who had also wanted a “big deal,” issued a statement Saturday, July 9, that suggested the best course at this late hour is to focus on what is doable by Friday, July 22.

“Despite good-faith efforts to find common ground,” he said, “the White House will not pursue a bigger debt reduction agreement without tax hikes. I believe the best approach may be to focus on producing a smaller measure, based on the cuts identified in the Biden-led negotiations, that still meets our call for spending reforms and cuts greater than the amount of any debt limit increase.”

The House Republican caucus simply has no appetite whatsoever for “job-killing” tax increases while the economy continues to limp along—a sentiment the chorus of commentators all echoed, predicting tax hikes were DOA, after the unexpected uptick in unemployment to 9.2% on Friday, July .
Despite good-faith efforts to find common ground, the White House will not pursue a bigger debt reduction agreement without tax hikes.

Boehner is conceding political reality as is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who proclaimed on the Senate Floor: “A real deal is unattainable” as long as Obama is President. McConnell proposes a Senate-first solution that will, at least, raise the debt ceiling if no agreement on a glide path to a balanced budget is reached.

Yet, Obama is “prepared to take significant heat from my party to get things done.”

Implicit in that statement is, “What about you, Speaker Boehner? Or, is your caucus so extreme that they cannot govern?”

We’ll get to the full-mooners momentarily; first the all-nighters.

The time, Mr. President, to tackle budget bloat—to close the “big deal” — is during the annual budget process, beginning in February, not during July's heat wave—a process the President tees off with his budget proposal.

Instead, Obama has run roughly $1.5 trillion deficits his first two years in office; while the Democratic-controlled Senate has passed not one budget in that time, fearing voter retribution. 

Furthermore, Obama produced two irresponsible budgets this year. The February budget, actually increasing the deficit, was voted down by the Senate, 97-0. The April budget, submitted in response to House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) ambitious budget, was dismissed by the CBO since it was not tied to real numbers.

Given this reality, for months Obama was the one insisting that the vote to increase the debt ceiling be “clean”—without any spending cuts.

Now, for the GOP full-mooners: What on earth were you thinking when you didn’t call the President's bluff on his $4 trillion “deal”? Seeing Obama bring along his fellow Democrats —whose mantra for winning the 2012 election is “Medicare, Medicare, Medicare”—would have been a wonder to behold!

That wonder is, of course, only in Obama’s imagination, making the fruits of the Biden talks—i.e., smaller cuts in the $1-$2 trillion range—the homework Congress and the President should hand in to the American people ASAP.

Published for the first time on American Politics and Policy, Wednesday, September 13, 2011.

Originally published in AND MAgazine, July 15, 2011.

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