I watched President Obama's press conference today. He made a heck of a lot of sense. No, a hell of a lot of sense.
President Obama intensified his pressure on House Republicans on Tuesday, calling on them to “lift these threats from our families and our businesses” as the federal government remained shuttered into a second week and the possibility that the United States would default on its debts grew closer.
Mr. Obama, holding firm to the position he first took more than a year ago, said at a lengthy news conference that he would not negotiate over the essential act of raising the nation’s debt limit or offer concessions to the Republican-led House to finance and reopen the government.
But he raised the possibility of reopening the government and raising the debt limit in the short term to allow negotiations, a development Republicans saw as positive. “If they can’t do it for a long time, do it for the period of time in which these negotiations are taking place,” he said.
Congress has a constitutional responsibility to both finance the government and keep it solvent, Mr. Obama said, and once the House acts, he will talk.
...“Think about it this way,” the president added. “The American people do not get to demand a ransom for doing their jobs.”
Neither Obama nor the Democrats in Congress should reward Republicans in any way for keeping the federal government financed or paying the bills that the government already has incurred. Like he said, that's their job.
The situation is akin to a husband and wife having an argument about the family budget. If one of them said, "You've got to agree with my position, or I'll burn the house down," that'd be extortion, not negotiation.
Yet Boehner and other GOP leaders keep saying that Obama won't negotiate. Well, as he made clear today, President Obama properly refuses to negotiate while the Republicans persist with their "or I'll burn the house down" threats.
Once they do their jobs, keeping the federal government open and paying bills already incurred, then talks can happen about whatever both sides are concerned about.
As so many knowledgeable commentators have pointed out, doing anything else rewards political extortionists. This has to be stopped. Now. For the sake of both parties, and especially us citizens who are fed up with manufactured crises that hurt the economy, consumer confidence, and job creation.
Not to mention retirement and other investment accounts.
The stock market is poised for a huge drop if the crazies in the GOP fail to raise the debt ceiling. They claim that not much will happen if the United States fails to pay its bills, but almost certainly they're wrong.
Robert Reich tells it like it is:
"I would dispel the rumor that is going around that you hear on every newscast, that if we don’t raise the debt ceiling, we will default on our debt," says Sen.Tom Coburn, R-Okla. “We won’t. We’ll continue to pay our interest.”
This is crazy talk. While the Treasury Department could prioritize interest payments after October 17 – the day the Treasury Department says it no longer has legal authority to pay the nation’s debts – and not pay Social Security and Medicare, this would buy a few days at most.
Meanwhile, interest rates will soar, stock prices will plummet, the global economy will begin spiraling downward, and millions of Americans wouldn’t receive their Social Security and Medicare.
So why are Republicans talking like this? Because they want to sound as if they’re willing to blow up the economy if they don’t get their way. A crazy person with a bomb is much scarier than someone holding a bomb who looks and acts reasonable. Sounding crazy is part of the Republican bargaining strategy.
But the President and the Democrats must not give in.
For the good of all of us, conservatives and progressives alike.
Tea Party types should imagine this: the Democrat-controlled Senate making demands on the Republican-controlled House to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship and nationwide background checks for all gun purchases before the Senate will agree to raise the national debt limit.
Instead, we've seen the House demanding that Obamacare be defunded or delayed before they will re-open the federal government or commit to paying the bills Congress already has incurred.
Extortion shouldn't be part of the governing process no matter who is doing it. Obama is standing up for constitutional government. He needs our support. For sure, he's got mine.