President Obama either spends too much time reading and watching people praise him or he is extraordinarily self-absorbed. As a result he has no use for political craftsmanship or a need for working within a system of opposition government.
Obama seems to think that House Republicans will not stand their ground in the coming debt ceiling crisis just because he was reelected and everyone thinks he’s wonderful. Congress has to raise the debt ceiling in a few weeks and they won’t vote to do so unless there are some spending cuts. Obama says he won’t negotiate.
Okay Mr. Ridiculous, don’t. So now the House Republicans will then go ahead and vote to raise the debt ceiling anyway just because they’re up against Obama?
Certainly liberals are reading this and maybe, maybe, some actually think for themselves. It may be a wild assumption, but for this reader I ask: you know we’ve been down this road before; Obama needs to work with congress to get passed this. How do you suppose he accomplishes this without negotiating? How does any politician in any kind of office ever get anything done without negotiating? Think, is this how successful politicians do things? No really, THINK!
And so the whole issue seems to have less to do about managing the government and more about public relations. Obama talks tough and then runs to watch MSNBC for praise and even for advice.
On Tuesday, Ridiculous said "...while I’m willing to compromise and find common ground over how to reduce our deficits, America cannot afford another debate with this Congress about whether or not they should pay the bills they’ve already racked up.” But there’s no other choice. If he’s willing to find common ground on reducing the deficit, why doesn’t he just find common ground in reducing the deficit? If "congress" racked up the budget, rack it down.
Forget about whether Obama is a liberal/Democrat/swell guy. This is an unnecessary fight and he risks tremendous amount of capital in battling it out. Obama will ultimately face a government in default or he will have to acquiesce to some spending cuts thereby appear feeble, powerless and plain silly.
And let’s not pretend House Republicans want spending cuts that are so deep and extensive that it will leave people starving in the streets. They have a constituency at home that rightly or wrong want them to bring home some bacon, but they also must appease an ideological base as well. There is enough spending done by the federal government that is frivolous. Obama could work this out and come up with cuts that both sides agree on that do not threaten cherished safety nets nor compromise their crazy ideologies.
The other argument is Republicans should not use the time to raise the debt ceiling to fight for cuts. Although this argument may have some merit, consider this: how can they ever accomplish spending cuts when neither Obama nor the democratically controlled senate refuses to pass a budget? Even in lieu of a budget, what leverage do they have in getting a stand-along spending cut bill?
The clever thing for Obama to do is cut spending and even that doesn’t have to be done. The government “cuts spending” will from time to time without actually doing anything of a kind. The budget is made of programs that automatically get increased without an actual vote. If there is, say, a structural 6% increase in a budget item and congress votes just a 4% increase instead, this is touted as a 2% “decrease in spending”.
It's word play, sophistry, whatever you may want to call it but it works. Certainly this isn’t an acceptable state of affairs and government spending ought to be reined in, but from a political standpoint few people understand the nuances of spending and the showcase media doesn’t ever bother to explain it and politicians know it.
This is why Obama’s stance is, for lack of a better term, foolish. There seems to be little to gain here for the amount of risk he’s taking. Ultimately a contentious fight will ensure and the more heated it gets the less likelihood either will give ground. The political culture will be inundated with exaggerated awfulness from both sides, in short, the country will be divisive and crass.
But Obama feels that he will come out of it smelling like a rose because he’s Mr. Wonderful, the people have spoken and they’re on his side. A president has to lead not win a series of public relations wars. If there is ever a moment that demonstrates what a bad president looks like, it’s now.