Last week, you will recall, I provided the following advice to our President: “In other words, Mr. President, divorce yourself from trying to gain the approval of the GOP because the reality is you will never obtain it.” Today, I provide the President with the reason for his divorce: Irreconcilable differences! Let me explain.
As preparations for today’s negotiations at the White House with both Republican and Democratic party leaders are underway, one thing is for certain: The “Party of No” refuses to compromise on the concept of shared sacrifice by the millionaires in our land. Late Saturday afternoon, Speaker Boehener announced that “Despite good faith efforts to find common ground, the White House will not pursue a bigger debt reduction agreement without tax hikes.” The Speaker’s statement is nothing short of “spin,” and I am certain he knows it. Here is why.
Last week, the White House telegraphed that President Obama was willing to put Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid cuts on the table in exchange for a tax hike of approximately $100 billion per year over 10 years. This news sent both party caucuses into oblivion as the GOP began arguing that the President was out of line.
Orrin Hatch (R-Ut) stated that he “was sick and tired of hearing about the President’s idea of making the wealthy pay their fair share and that it was time for the poor to contribute theirs.” (paraphrased). Preposterous! In other words, the poor should pay more! Moreover, Senator John Cornyn (R-Tx) chastised the President for pushing Congress to resolve the debt-ceiling issue by indicating that despite his respect for the Office of the President, the President has derogated the office due to his supposed “fit,” as the President indicated his two children didn’t procrastinate over doing their homework; therefore, why should Congress?
But thankfully, the Democratic caucus along with outside advocates drew their line in the sand, and were not distracted, by making clear their lack of support for any debt-ceiling legislation, should any cuts to these programs and their beneficiaries be included. It very well may have been this rhetoric that closed off the deal for the White House and Speaker Boehner.
Furthermore, a Republican familiar with the talks indicates the two parties cannot come to an agreement due to the President’s unwillingness to make cuts to these entitlement programs. He states: “The White House would not agree with the core elements of tax reform proposed by the Speaker.” Thank goodness! Could it be that our President is finally learning that it is okay to take a stand, to not compromise? White House communications Director Dan Pfeiffer issued this statement: “The President believes that solving our fiscal problems is an economic imperative. But in order to do that, we cannot ask the middle-class and seniors to bear all the burden of higher costs and budget cuts. We need a balanced approach that asks the very wealthiest and special interests to pay their fair share as well, and we believe the American people agree.” Guess what, Mr. President? According to recent polling conducted by Pew Research, we do agree!
The poll comprised of 1500 randomly selected participants, asked participants their level of approval to various ways of handing the deficit. The following results were obtained: 66% approved raising taxes on incomes over $250,000, 65% approve reducing overseas military commitments, 62% approve limiting tax deductions for large corporations, while only 36% of Americans approve of cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits. Furthermore, only 23% of those polled approve of cutting federal aid to states for programs such as education, improvement to infrastructure, Planned Parenthood, The Environmental Protection Agency, education, Pell Grants, and the very programs the GOP currently advocate cutting.
Yet, this is not the most damning evidence against the GOP strategy because Americans were asked by Pew research what their greatest concern currently was regarding the economy. Currently 65% of Americans want Washington to create jobs while only 31% are concerned about the deficit. This makes perfect sense since the jobless rate increased an additional tenth of a point this previous month with only 18,000 jobs being created. And let’s not forget that the GOP was swept into power and elected to Congress due to their stated agenda of creating jobs, yet, not one single bill has been proposed by the current GOP.
So with all of the spin by the GOP regarding the debt-ceiling, here are a few facts for my readers to consider. First, the manner in which the GOP has tied budget talks with honoring our debt has been unprecedented this previous week. Never before has any party made such an issue about increasing the debt-ceiling. Oh, there may have been the “normal” partisan moaning and groaning, yet, the GOP continues to hold hostage our debt obligations by trying to manipulate the President into more spending cuts on essential programs benefiting the middle-class.
Second, many Americans, due to the “spin” by the GOP, are under the impression that raising the debt-ceiling means our Country is attempting to incur more debt. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth! What is taking place when talking about raising the debt-ceiling is ensuring our Country honors the commitments it has already made. What does the GOP propose we as a Country ought to do? Walk away from our financial obligations sending our economy into a second recessionary dip?
Third, when the Speaker indicates that the GOP has negotiated in good faith, he insults the intelligence of every American citizen. We ALL know that the Speaker has himself in a bind due to nearly 80 Tea Party representatives’ obsession with defending tax breaks for millionaires and other special-interest tax loopholes.
Senator Schumer (D-N.Y.) drives this point home when he states: “The President has called the Republicans’ bluff by offering them exactly the type of grand bargain they said they wanted, only to have it rejected. Some on the Republican side would like to confuse the issue by pretending it was tax hikes on the middle-class that they were trying to prevent, but none were ever on the table.”
Yes, Mr. President, a divorce seems imminent. My advice? Get a good lawyer and look into the constitutionality of taking unilateral action in raising the debt ceiling premised on the 14’th amendment. Let’s face it Mr. President, this Country needs and wants jobs! The Republicans’ strategy of blurring the two issues appears to be working for them. Once again, they are not only creating, but controlling the narrative, when, in fact, Mr. President, YOU are the one that must do this. You can accomplish this take in various ways, however, I cannot think of any better way than doing press conferences on a consistent basis while keeping the American public informed of the “real” narrative. This is why I believe the former Speaker Nancy Pelosi is correct when she states: “We don’t need a grand bargain; we need a grand vision!” The Country is counting on you Mr. President. I say again: Divorce yourself from trying to please the “Party of No!”