President Demands 'Massive, Job-killing Tax Increases' and Dares Republicans to Call His Bluff
This was the kind of week where any self-respecting 2008 Obama supporter who had not yet yanked off his Obama-Biden Bumper sticker should have been in his garage scraping off that old Hope and Change.
It began on Monday when he insisted on a "grand bargain" that would include , in his words, "massive , job-killing tax increases." It was the first honest explanation of his economic plan but surely it was no surprise that his opponents found it an unappealing course of action.
He also threatened that the government might not be able to make Social Security payments if the debt ceiling had not been lifted by August 2. Throwing granny to the wolves is a rather overdone theme by the Democrats, and in any event for a variety of reasons the threat vanished soon after it was made, largely because it was not credible.
While most of the media reports continue to credit Obama with a good faith effort and parrot anonymous "insider" slams at the opposition, particularly Eric Cantor, Charles Krauthammer seems to have a clearer view of the president's history respecting the U.S. budget:
President Obama is demanding a big long-term budget deal. He won't sign anything less, he warns, asking, "If not now, when?"
How about last December, when he ignored his own debt commission's recommendations? How about February, when he presented a budget that increases debt by $10 trillion over the next decade? How about April, when he sought a debt-ceiling increase with zero debt reduction attached?
All of a sudden he's a born-again budget balancer prepared to bravely take on his own party by making deep cuts in entitlements. Really? Name one. He's been saying forever that he's prepared to discuss, engage, converse about entitlement cuts. But never once has he publicly proposed a single structural change to any entitlement.
Anonymous talk is cheap. Leaks are designed to manipulate. Offers are floated and disappear.
Say it, Mr. President. Give us one single structural change in entitlements. In public.
As the week continued and Obama failed to make the sale, he warned his opponents not to "call his bluff," something so ridiculously telling that I imagine thousands of people were e-mailing the White House inviting Obama to join them in Vegas. I mean what's the point of telling your opponents straight up that you are bluffing?
It got better. He warned Cantor he'd "take his case to the American people" if the Republicans didn't bow to his demands. James Taranto didn't think this was much of a threat since, beginning with ObamaCare, the President has had a poor record convincing the American people of anything.
Next, the President tried to persuade Republican legislators to join him at Camp David. It was hard to imagine why being held hostage in the Maryland countryside would add much to the discussion, and Congressman Boehner rejected the offer.
In any event, Obama forged ahead with this plan, holding yet a second press conference at the end of the week when it appeared his bluff had been called. And this time he peddled some obvious whoppers to support his faltering case.
Most egregiously he claimed 4 out of 5 (80%) of Americans support tax increases. "The problem is members of Congress are dug in ideologically."
The figure seemed about 10 times higher than I would have imagined According to Don Surber my guess was close. Looking at a Gallup Poll he found "only 4% of Americans want to close the deficit with taxes only. Only 11% want to close the deficit mostly with taxes."
Viewing this most charitably, Obama seems to be in the 4% category, but given his inflated sense of himself and his lack of deftness when it comes to numbers , I suppose he thought 4% is the same as 4 out of 5.
Rasmussen found that 55% of Americans say a tax hike should not even be included in any legislation respecting a hike in the debt ceiling.
In the end, Obama is posturing, rather than leading, and now everyone has caught on, though the media continue to live in an "alternative universe" where he has "rolled" the GOP, as Mickey Kaus put it.
Obama's threats are not credible, and his postures vary with the immediate need to write a storyline making him look good. The inimitable Thom McGuire of Just One Minute writes of Obama "voguing" being a president.
At the end of the day, the President is not going to get away, it seems, with a raise in the debt limit accompanied by tax increases and make believe unicorn accounting budget cuts.
On the same day of his second press conference on the debt ceiling negotiations, the Republicans announced a "cut, cap and balance" bill. It's hard to get much of a handle on what is in all the various legislative proposals. By Friday night the closest I could find was in The Hill:
The plan would authorize a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt ceiling after Congress passes a balanced-budget amendment.
According to a summary shown to The Hill, the plan would cut $111 billion in fiscal 2012 and cap spending at 18 percent of gross domestic product by 2021. The $2.4 trillion increase in the debt ceiling would satisfy the president's demand that the additional borrowing authority carry the nation through the 2012 elections.
The move will allow the GOP to say it has acted to increase the debt ceiling and prevent a default, even if the plan is one that is likely to be rejected by Democrats and the White House.
"We're once again trying to provide the leadership that the American people sent us here to provide," Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) said.
In the meantime, Senators Reid and McConnell are said to be still working with the White House respecting the August 2 debt limit deadline with no progress yet reported.
The week began with Obama, still hailed in many circles as a great orator, stepping on his lines. It continued with the man who the media generally paints as a moderate, fanning class warfare, showing a complete inability to compromise, and acting like a punk making idle, even laughable threats.
Besides the myths of his speaking ability, brains and engaging personality, the picture painted of him in 2008 suggested he would heal the racial divide. In that respect the week was a trifecta of failure. Once again, when his shortcomings were exposed, a member of his party dealt the race card and he failed to condemn this race baiting nonsense.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, B.A. Yale, J.D., University of Virginia, implied on the floor of the House that race motivated the opposition to Obama's efforts to raise the debt ceiling:
"I do not understand what I think is the maligning and maliciousness [toward] this president," said Jackson Lee, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. "Why is he different? And in my community, that is the question that we raise. In the minority community that is question that is being raised. Why is this president being treated so disrespectfully? Why has the debt limit been raised 60 times? Why did the leader of the Senate continually talk about his job is to bring the president down to make sure he is unelected?"