Saturday, June 25, 2011

Boehner Speaks, Obama Comes A-Runnin'

Disturbed by the thought of discussion of a budget deal in which oil companies and the uber-wealthy might almost sacrifice a little, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Arizona Senator Jon Kyl have left the debt discussions led by Vice-President Biden.

It is, on the face of it, two immature individuals taking their ball and going home. And no doubt Cantor would rather have House Speaker Boehner negotiate, and be accountable for, an agreement which would include an increase in revenue, better to cement his relationship with the extreme conservatives most House freshmen are.

Howard Fineman, though, tired of the trite (though increasingly useful) "good cop, bad cop" cliche, remarked that Boehner and Cantor "think they are playing a sort o bad cop and worse cop routine here, where Boehner, the golfing buddy --"

They not only think it- they are playing it and quite successfully, thank you. President Obama's press spokesman, following the departure of Cantor and Kyl, maintains "we believe that we can move forward as long as no one in the talks takes a “my way or the highway” approach." Undeterred, Boehner challenges Obama:

If the president wants this done, he must lead. We have an extraordinary opportunity to do something big for our economy and our country. With presidential leadership, we can seize this moment and deliver something important for the people we serve.

With Cantor out, Boehner has a stronger hand and is able to say

Gee, I'd like to, but you know these newbies in my caucus don't even want to talk about revenue enhancement and are adamantly opposed to hiking the debt limit. But if you insist, I'll take your offer back to them and see what they have to say.

Fortunately, with Obama not directly involved, the Vice-President is able to play the same game, arguing that he likes the deal but has to run it past the big guy. So, recognizing the "good cop, bad cop" show and not being completely naive, the President, of course, refuses.

Not exactly. According to USA Today yesterday (I always wanted to write that):

President Obama is getting directly involved in bipartisan talks about increasing the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, agreeing to meet Monday with Senate Democratic and Republican leaders.

Obama and Vice President Biden will meet Monday morning with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and in the evening with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The goal is "to discuss the status of the negotiations to find common ground on a balanced approach to deficit reduction," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

McConnell said he hopes Obama requested the meeting "in order to finally explain what it is that he's prepared to do to solve our nation's fiscal crisis."

The President should "finally explain what it is that he's prepared to do to solve our nation's fiscal crisis." Further, he should explain what the other side is prepared to do to solve the fiscal crisis. The Democratic party has proposed generous cuts, eliminating tax loopholes, and increasing taxes on multi-millionaires; the Republican Party wants this great country to default on its debts, drive interest rates up, and increase the cost for businesses and consumers to borrow money. And the GOP is doing this in order to slash Medicare. The President could explain this in prime time, on television. He could do it, in the manner of presidential statements and speeches, in a lengthy address. Alternatively, he could do it in a matter of a few minutes, keeping it simple. Of course, it might be difficult for a man who brags "And I'm prepared to bring down our debt by trillions of dollars -- that's "trillions" with a 't.'"

This is an obvious course for a President who is determined to keep the social safety net intact, defending and protecting government programs which have remained popular with the vast majority of the American people. That is, of course, assuming Barack Obama wants to protect these programs.

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