Speaker John Boehner is saying President Barach Obama lacks the courage to reopen the debt ceiling discussion. He wants the president to request a higher debt ceiling now, so there will be less danger of the nation going over the financial cliff in December when the debt debate will be joined with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the beginning of the cuts agreed to in July, 2012.
At first glance, the proposal seems like it is worth considering. It would give President Obama an opportunity to show leadership and to remind people that he has repeatedly suggested ways to both cut the debt and stimulate the economy. Each time, the GOP has blocked him.
But the public in the past has refused to credit Obama for reaching out to the Republicans, for suggesting reasonable debt reduction plans, or for repeatedly offering stimulus proposals. Moreover, the public has not made the GOP pay for constant obstructionism.
So maybe Obama gains little by reaching out once again or by reming people about his proposals to cut the budget and stimulate the economy.
He can, and should seize this opportunity to fully or almost fully endorse the Simpson=Bowles debt reduction plan. This would help him win the suport of some reasonable Independents.
Boehner is playing to the many extremist in his caucus. He may fear a 2013 challenge from Eric Cantor of Virginia.
The Speaker is really telling Obama to summon the courage to surrender to the House GOP because he attaches the condition that there be no revenue increases and that the Bush tax cuts be extended into 2013.
That spells outright surrender, and most Democrats think their team in D.C. has run up the white flag one time too many.
Mitch McConnell is resisting opening the debt debate because he feart the extremists will frighten voters and prevent the GOP from taking over the Senate.
In the July 2011 debate, Republican tactics led to near default and a lowered credit rating. The popularity of Congress dipped as did that of Obama. Somehow voters blamed him for what the GOP had done. There is no evidence that irresponsible antics hurt the GOP in any appreciable way.
And of course, the media said the blame was a horse apiece.
Most observers agree that another stalemate on the debt ceiling would be "catastrophic" and "calamitous" for our economy. Yet, Boehner is willing to risk doing massive harm to the economy for political purposes. Romney seems to share the sentiment and calculation as he seconded Boehner's position with talk of a "prairie fire of debt."
Many have suspected that the Republican game all along was to block growth and job creation so that voters would blame Obama for the slow improvement. This latest ploy seems proof enough, and Senator Chuck Schumer all but said this was the Republican strategy.
Opening the discussion now would gravely hurt the economy--just what the GOP is counting on.
Obama should avoid the trap, constantly tout Simpson-Bowles, make many piecemeal proposals to cut the debt and stimulate the economy. He might also remind people that he saved $500 billion from projected increases in Medicare spending. He did not reduce any benefits. He needs to address this daily Republican lie, and then take on a few more.
He might also remind people that the public debt tripled under Reagan and went up .50% under him, due to the Bush Republican great recession. He might add that Reagan raised taxes 11 times.
He has to start addressing the lies even if only a few rational Independents are listening
Looking for a grand bargain now would only be good for the country if the Republicans
had a change of heart and were willing to seriously consider revenue increases.
That won't happen.