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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner may have gone back and forth on the debt ceiling Monday night, but the market and rating agencies have already delivered a clear verdict: the House Republican bill — which they call “Cut, Cap and Balance” — will not prevent a downgrade of U.S. Treasury securities. Passage of the latest plan offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid might not prevent a downgrade either. As President Obama explained, directly and eloquently, that will mean higher interest rates, larger deficits, diminished economic growth, and likely a worse recession. With apparent reluctance, the President endorsed Reid’s plan as far more accomodating than Boehner’s, because it foregoes the revenue increases that Democrats consider necessary and fair. Pleading repeatedly for compromise and balance, which he portrayed as a great tradition of American democracy, he warned that strict adherence to ideology would risk the future of the nation.

What the President’s speech offered, if voters listened closely, was historical context that underlies the current stalemate. If Boehner was listening, he ought to have blushed beneath his tan, knowing that he was about to claim the high moral ground on spending. Neither the Speaker nor any of his partisan colleagues can deny that their party voted to extend two wars and hugely expand Medicare spending, while cutting taxes on the wealthy — a series of acts that squandered the surplus earned by the Clinton Administration. Boehner won’t give this president a “blank check” to raise the debt limit, he blustered, although that is exactly what he and his colleagues gave George W. Bush on seven separate occasions.

Now Boehner wants the poor, the young, the elderly, and working families to pay for those gross and costly mistakes while insisting the wealthy to escape any such sacrifice. And he wants to be applauded for it, but polls show that nobody is clapping except his own party’s hardline base. The latest CNN survey indicates that 51 percent blame the Republicans for the default risk, while only 30 percent blame the President.

Whether or not they can comprehend the confusing series of leaks, proposals, claims and complaints emanating from Capitol Hill and the White House, voters seem to be realizing now what they risk might entail and why we are forced to confront it. Most Americans now evidently understand why Obama believes, as he said on Monday evening, that default would be “a reckless and irresponsible outcome to this debate” – and they may well understand that Boehner’s plan, which would only extend the debt ceiling for six months, will provide no viable solution. He warned that repeating the same political drama early next year would only pose “a greater danger” to economic growth and security, leaving the American people as “collateral damage” in the unremitting ideological warfare waged by his adversaries.

Yet despite the growing political isolation of the House Republicans, the President seems unwilling to follow the logic of his own argument to its real conclusion. If it is true that there is no will to compromise on the other side of the aisle, and if it is true that both default and the Republican plan would place the nation at unacceptable risk, then why has he foresworn unilateral presidential action to raise the debt limit? It is time to put that option on the table as fair warning to the Republicans that this president will not permit them to dictate a ruinous outcome – and accept the consequences, come what may.

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Copyright 2011 The National Memo
  • Theodora30

    The message we should all be emphasizing is that people who hate government can’t – or deliberately won’t – govern.

  • JVIsaac

    What the Repulicans are doing is a deplorable.
    Are they really willing to let the country slide further
    into economic ruin? It is time for the President to act unilaterally,
    as you said.

  • eugabbott

    Dear Mr. President, I truly hope you will use the power of your office to continue your great service to our country. I am ashamed to be an american with the trash that is going on in Washington. However, I am extreamly prowd of our President and I truly trust that you will pull this mess around and save our Great Country.
    God Speed Mr. President,
    Eugene R. S. Abbott
    6529 Fore Circle
    Chesterfield, VA 23832

    I am a senior citizen and count soly on my Social Security to pay my rent in this retirement community. God Bless you Sir, you and your wonderful family

  • billsamuel

    I’m not sure about the Constitutional issue, as the wording is unclear and Constitutional experts disagree on it, but Obama has failed to provide leadership. He made an elequent case for a balanced deficit reduction plan, but he has not actually presented such a plan. There is no such plan on the table in the Congress. The Reid plan is, in the words of The Washington Post, “strikingly similar” to the Boehner plan. It is both “cuts only” thus largely exempting the rich from contributing to deficit reduction, and “kicks the can down the road” by leaving much of the deficit reduciton for a later vote after a commission is formed and makes recommendations.

    President Obama has had a fairly consistent policy of refusing to lead. He generally will not present plans to the Congress. This is an abject failure of leadership. A recent survey shows 64% support for a balanced plan. But there’s none on the table. This is as much the President’s fault as that of the Congress. Leadership isn’t just talking. It requires action.

  • ronaldrc

    The Clinton administration was a democratic president and a republican house and senate.It was also the most prosperous years of the plus 60 years I have lived.

    Beats me why the people can’t look back at the Clinton administration and lealize that the top 2 percent of the wealth holders have to be tax very heavy just to move the money back into ciculation.

    Taxes on the wealthy allowed us to prosper because the Federal Government had the surplus funds that allowed all the temporary Employment to repave roads, Repair and build bridges and put money back into the market.There was so much work going on on the Hwy systems that you where detoured every few miles, remember and this work put other crafts and trades and manufacturers to work.

    Then came the next two administrations lowered taxes on all the wealthy and ended up having to borrow money where we did have a surplus. Reall y not that long ago.

    When you see a billionaire interviewed on TV they have no problem having to pay higher taxes.They encourage it.

    The wealthy few that oppose higher taxes on the wealthy are the millionaires that want to be billionaires.

    And I think most of these are on the radio air ways.

    I personnely think this was this administrations proposal but by lowering the taxes on the top 2 percent wealth holders they simply do not have the money.

    Thanks:Just Ranting

  • J39Wallace

    I am glad to hear to see/hear Joe Conason’s clear voice again, especially on this most pressing issue. President Obama deserves more than a nobel peace prize for putting up with these congressional acts of treason. These republicans would let the nation fall to ruin rather than work in the interest on our country.

    I am sorry to say but I can’t remember in all of my almost seven decades in the USA a party defying the president as these so-called Republican are doing.

    I have no doubt in my mind that these treasonous acts on the part of the Republican-tea party and otherwise-is because this president is an African-American.

    The cost of racism is too high a price to pay. All righteous, fair minded Americans need to let their voices be heard. Barack Obama is the duly elected president of the United States of America and should be respected as such.

    Don’t let an evil few tear our country down

  • EdmundCopeland

    Now is the time for the silent majority to demand action. We must trim our budget and allow the wealthy to pay their full share of the country’s tax burden. The mistakes of the last 8 years of the Bush administration must be corrected. Most of the individuals who made the Clinton administration successful are still alive and should be listened to now. The shallow conceptions of the Tea Party Republicans must be disclosed for what they are: the religious right applied to the government of our country.

    The senior members of the Democratic and Republican parties must reach a compromise in the week which remains. The nonsense of the Tea Party Republicans must be ignored.

  • scott2345

    Congress is going on vacation until after Labor Day at least, and likely until after the November election, for some of them. And, have you noticed, very Friday the news stops because Congress and the White House go on their respective 3 day weekends? Why should the public get up tight worrying about the Nation when Congress and the White House play golf? They’re just working us folks!

    The truth is we will all have been up tight for 18 months FOR NOTHING when on January 1, 2013, our leaders chicken out on the trigger and do not allow the Bush tax cuts expire. The shirking of duty and the super-committee will have been a series of jokes upon jokes.

    Through all of this our leaders will not have missed a vacation or a holiday.

    This country can only afford half the military, half the healthcare, and half the Federal pensions using currently projected revenue. That’s the size of it.