In a press conference earlier today, President Barack Obama scolded House Republicans for refusing to raise the debt ceiling and took his case for fiscal fairness directly to the American people. The president started on a positive note, with glowing reports on a growing economy, new jobs, and a slowly-but-surely decreasing deficit, while quickly indicating that he’s bracing himself for a fight:
“Right now, our economy is growing and our businesses are creating new jobs. So, we are poised for a good year if we make smart decisions and sound investments, and as long as Washington politics don’t get in the way of America’s progress [italics mine].”
Obama reiterated his commitment to “growing our economy and broadening opportunity for the middle class” while “shrinking our deficits in a balanced and responsible way,” and reminded us of the “$2.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the past two years, not counting the $400 billion already saved from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” But he also bluntly states that reducing the deficit will require more shared sacrifice, and strongly implies that the GOP has not been honest or fair:
“The fact is, though, we can’t finish the job of deficit reduction through spending cuts alone … It turns out the American people agree with me … they want us to get our books in order in a balanced way, where everybody pulls their weight, everyone does their part. That’s what I want, as well.”
Then, the president brings the hammer down on the “so-called debt ceiling,” and baldly states that this formerly routine legislative procedure “does not authorize more spending. It simply allows the country to pay for spending that Congress has already committed to.” In other words, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, expensive prescription drug benefits, tax cuts for the rich, and other Bush II era expenses that turned the Clinton era surpluses and booming economy into a deficit and recession.
Obama also recites the potentially dire consequences of not raising the debt ceiling: Unpaid troops, food inspectors, air traffic controllers, and nuclear specialists (do we REALLY want people with access to weapons, food-borne bacteria, flight information, and radioactive materials MAD at us?!?); Unpaid contracts with “small business owners” (because the big guys would presumably find ways to extract Federal monies owed to them); jittery markets; higher interest rates; decreased economic growth; and — as icing on the cake — a higher deficit! Obama then reminds us of 2011′s debt ceiling debacle:
“The last time republicans in Congress even flirted with this idea, our AAA credit rating was downgraded for the first time in our history. Our businesses created the fewest jobs of any month in nearly the past three years, and ironically, the whole fiasco actually added to the deficit.”
“The issue here is whether or not America pays its bills,” Obama declares. “We are not a deadbeat nation.”
At least most of us would like to THINK we’re not a “deadbeat nation.” John Perr from Daily Kos writes that “during their rare moments of candor, Republican leaders agree with President Obama that failing to raise the US debt ceiling would be ‘catastrophic.’” The GOP may not even have enough political capital for the upcoming battle. On January 8th, Brett LoGiurato from Business Insider — not exactly the most progressive publication — reported that the GOP’s image is already badly bruised and “near-rock bottom” after December’s fiscal cliff fight. Only 31% approved of the GOP handling of this issue, according to an ABC/Washington Post poll, and Republicans score even worse in a Pew Research Center survey with an utterly wretched 19% approval rating.
You’d think the 2012 election results, millions of people fleeing the GOP like rats from a sinking ship, and the recent abysmal poll numbers would force Republicans to reconsider their unpopular — and morally repugnant — platform, but no … they’re like the pugnacious Black Night from Monty Python’s The Holy Grail who challenges King Arthur and — after the king reluctantly hacks off all his limbs — refuses to concede defeat and begins head-butting his bemused opponent. This stubbornness doesn’t even benefit the Koch brothers and other monied interests our congress people seek to serve. As my AI colleague T. Steelman recently wrote, “So let’s boil this down: Congressional GOP leaders want to use the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip, threatening not to raise it unless cuts are made (never mind that we’ve already made $1.7 trillion so far). The resulting financial meltdown would cost their corporate masters a LOT of money if they go through with their threat.”
Today’s article from Politico confirms that, while Americans hope our leaders will be reasonable, the Republican leadership remains determined to use the looming debt ceiling crisis as a pawn to force draconian budget cuts from Obama and his fellow Democrats.
“I think it is possible that we would shut down the government to make sure President Obama understands that we’re serious,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state told Politico. “We always talk about whether or not we’re going to kick the can down the road. I think the mood is that we’ve come to the end of the road.”
Over the course of various meetings behind closed doors, the Republican leadership have warned the White house that over half of their members are “prepared to allow default,” that it’ll be difficult to talk “restive conservatives off the fiscal ledge.” Apparently, the GOP-run house works similarly to Todd Akin’s (R-Douchebag) concept of a raped woman’s reproductive system: When threatened by increased government funding, “the whole thing shuts down.” And when the liberal — and Nobel Prize-winning — economist Paul Krugman steps in to accuse House Republicans of “hostage taking,” you know they’ll dig in their heels … especially since the GOP’s 2010 gerrymandering ensures that these idiots have safe seats and will face no negative consequences for putting our nation in peril.
Here’s The Washington Post’s video of the president’s last press conference for his first term:
|Elisabeth Parker is a writer, Web designer, mom, political junkie, and dilettante. Come visit her at ElisabethParker.Com, “like” her on facebook, or follow her on Twitter. For more articles by Elisabeth, click here.|