Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Presidential Temperament?



The big headline on the Drudgereport is that the President walked out of a meeting with Eric Cantor regarding debt limit negotiations. The President is wrapping himself in the flag, claiming that the Republicans are refusing to compromise. Nothing could be further from the truth. Republicans are willing to increase the debt limit by the exact amount of spending cuts that the President and the Democrats are willing to cut spending by. Seems reasonable to me. From Politico:
Obama told Cantor that he would either have to agree to tax increases or give up on his demand that the debt hike be matched dollar-to-dollar to the cuts — that is, $2.5 trillion in deficit-reduction over 10 years in exchange for a $2.5 trillion hike in the debt ceiling.

Problem is, the GOP’s vowed not to raise the debt ceiling by more than the amount in total cuts and a $1.5 trillion debt-ceiling hike won’t get us past the election next year. That makes The Perpetual Campaigner unhappy, so either the GOP will have to step back from its vow or O will have to agree to deal with the debt ceiling again — just a few months before election day, when the incentives on both sides to hold out will be even greater than they are now.

So despite the President's rhetoric that he will sacrifice his presidency over this, one can only hope, the real issue is that he doesn't want this as a campaign issue in 2012, so he won't go for any deal that doesn't push the next debt ceiling debate beyond November, 2012, with cushion to spare. It has been widely reported that Obama said that "Ronald Reagan wouldn't sit here and take this." How true; in the 1980s, Reagan reached out to Dan Rostenkowski to cut deals on tax code simplification and rate reductions that led to real growth in the economy. He didn't sit back and wait to the eleventh hour to jump into the fray with politically charged rhetoric designed to deflect criticism. William Daley, an old Chicago pol, who probably knew Rosty, should get Obama to refrain from comparing himself to Reagan, its too easy a target.

Obama was elected in no small part because of his supposed bipartisan tone suggested a willingness to independents that he would work in good faith with Republicans on pressing issues in trying times. He has certainly lost whatever good will he may have had by his consistently nasty tone, whether towards the opposition or the "fat cats with corporate jets." As Lexington points out in The Economist:
Why is bashing the rich such an unpopular form of populism in America? The normal answer falls back on culture. Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution notes that Americans are repelled by the notion of inequality in worth or status. That men are created equal is, after all, “self-evident”. They are, however, far less perturbed by unequal wealth, a form of inequality that is the inevitable product of the free-market system in which most still profess an abiding faith.
Obama has shown himself to be a captive to his left wing base on issues where it was most important for him to be open to negotiation. How a man could ignore the base and his campaign promises regarding overseas wars, but never cross them on anything domestic, at first boggles the imagination. But then consider this, Obama never actually does anything which reduces the size of the government, not even something like cutting military spending.

Programming note. Sorry for the dearth of posts lately, continued health problems are slowing me down.


  1. Yikes! Hope you're feeling better soon.

  2. Thank you for cutting through the clutter on the latest debt ceiling tornado. It really is a simple solution being muddied for no good reason.

    Sorry you still don't feel well.

  3. Prayers for your recovery. A great post!