A puckerish President Obama took to the podium this morning at 10 to try to press his views on the debt ceiling issue. It was an infuriating, highly predictable presser with his hits at Republicans, Bush and corporate jet owners, but without any new ideas.
First he scolded Congress. “This should have been taken care of earlier…This is not some abstract issue…Congress has run up the credit card (Democrats under your direction) and we now have an obligation to pay our bills.”
Right away he went to the scare tactic. If we don’t increase the debt ceiling “we could get to where interest rates rise for everybody all throughout the country. Effectively a tax increase on everybody (Huh?? I thought you were for tax increases for a lot of us). “You’re trying to get a loan for a car or a student loan (always thinking about those kids!); businesses trying to make payroll, all of them could be impacted as a consequence of default.”
In discussions with Congressional leaders “what I’ve tried to emphasize is that we have a unique opportunity to do something big. We have a chance to stabilize America’s finances for a decade or fifteen years or twenty if we’re willing to seize the moment.” (Seize is the operative word here. That’s what the Soviet Union and Chavez have done.)
“What it would require is some shared sacrifices (there it is again; why do I think he won’t experience any?)” Obama goes on to say how heroic he’s been in trying to get domestic spending down “to the lowest percentage since Dwight Eisenhower.” (Best to avoid FDR, I suppose.) He immediately goes to Defense spending – not surprising for a leftist. Hundreds of billions more, he says.
Then Obama turned to the health care system, in particular Medicare. Then to the nuts and bolts “It will require revenue.” (because it’s never enough for Democrats.)
“Folks like myself that can afford it, that we are able to do a little bit more. That millionaires and billionaires can afford to do a little bit more. That we can close corporate loopholes so that oil companies aren’t getting unnecessary tax breaks (like GE?) or that corporate jet owners (that didn’t take long) aren’t getting unnecessary tax breaks.”
“If we take that approach then I am confident that we can not only impress financial markets, but more importantly we can impress the American people that this town can actually get something done once in a while.”
“My hope, though, is that my Republican friends are listening not just to lobbyists special interest here in Washington, but the American people.” (Rich coming from someone who talks with SEIU chief Richard Trumka everyday.)
A reporter asked about the Republican approach including a balanced budget amendment. Smirking, Obama said, “I think I already addressed this question earlier. We don’t need a balanced budget amendment to do our jobs. The Constitution already tells us to do our jobs…this notion that we are going to go through a multi year process instead of seizing the moment now is a typical Washington response.” It think the last poll I saw showed more than 75% of the American people want a balanced budget amendment.
“Here’s the good news. It turns out that we don’t have to do anything radical to solve this problem. Contrary to what some folks (why are we always folks?) say we’re not Greece (yet), we’re not Portugal. It turns out that our problem is we cut taxes without paying for them over the last decade. We ended up instituting new programs such as the prescription drug program for seniors that was not paid for (that evil Bush!). We fought two wars and we didn’t pay for them. We had a bad recession that required a Recovery Act (required it?) and stimulus spending (was he forced to do this?) and helping states and all that accumulated and there’s interest on top of that and to unwind that, what’s required is that we roll back those tax cuts on the wealthiest individuals, we clean up our tax rolls so we’re not giving up a bunch of tax breaks to companies that don’t need them and aren’t creating jobs.z” Please remember how the GDP grew during the Bush administration. That wasn’t an accident.
The president was open to Senator McConnell’s plan, but managed to get his digs in. “Raising the debt ceiling is a problem that was created here in Washington. Senator McConnell approach solves the first problem, but it doesn’t solve the second problem.”
“I always have hope. Don’t you remember my campaign?” (Unfortunately, we do, but the hope is now gone)
He says the Republican leaders are not listening to the Republican voters. “Now’s a good time.” (He means now’s a good time to dump the Tea Party.)
He called on an obviously fawning reporter who says McConnell is seeing the issue from the prism of 2012. Obama answered, “Part of this job is having a thick skin and realizing that a lot of it’s not personal (this from a notoriously thin skinned man who walked out of the meeting in a funk). That’s not going to be an impediment.” Blah, blah, blah he went on, saying we need to “set politics aside in order to get something done.”
“American people are obsessing about right now is that unemployment is still way to high (I guess we do have to worry about it; obviously you don’t). “We should renew the payroll tax for another year. We should make sure unemployment insurance there for another year.” (How many years will they get?)
Some toady reporter said “raising the debt ceiling is fairly routine. but it’s brought us to the point of economic Armageddon. If you can get past this one, how can you get any agreement with Congress on the big issues you talked about?” He replied that he was “going to keep on working .. and this will subject Congress to scrutiny and increasingly the American people are going to say to themselves, ‘you know what, if a party or a politician is constantly taking the position my way or the highway, constantly being locked into ideologically rigid positions that we’re going to remember at the polls.” (Wait a minute, wasn’t it he who said he would not accept a short term deal? Who refuses to cut anywhere except Defense and who drools for tax increases?)
It was another annoying performance by the president, abetted by the fawning media.