In the ongoing budget negotiations, it is becoming quite clear that President Obama, quite contrary to his posturing, is the major fly in the ointment.
Even the Democratic leadership is more flexible than President Obama, putting the lie to the oft-stated speculation that Obama is a mere puppet. He is his own counsel.
It was reported that on Sunday night, he unilaterally rejected a bipartisan deal presented to him by Senate and House leaders. "Sen. (Harry) Reid took the bipartisan plan to the White House, and the president said no," an aide said.
This is quite a different picture from what President Obama has been painting for the press. At the exact moment he said he didn't want to point fingers, he complained that he and his Democrats had been willing to compromise but that Republicans were dug into their ideological cement.
He said, "And I think one of the questions that the Republican Party is going to have to ask itself is, Can they say yes to anything?" Are you kidding me? This is the guy who still hasn't presented his own plan and obstructs all others not conforming to his unreasonable demands.
Though later reports indicate Reid may be caving to Obama's demands, this question remains: Why is Obama even willing to pit himself against his own party?
Well, he'd have us belief that he alone is standing up for the will and interests of the American people. He must think we forgot how he crammed Obamacare down our throats. A strong majority still wants it repealed.
In a recent news conference, he fraudulently claimed that 80 percent of Americans want tax increases to be included in a deal and that he would reject any deal that did not include a tax increase for the "wealthiest Americans." But Rasmussen Reports indicates that 55 percent of Americans do not want tax increases as part of the deal. A CNN poll finds that 66 percent support "cut, cap and balance," and 74 percent support a balanced budget amendment, both of which Obama steadfastly opposes.
Obama's intransigence is based on his ideology and raw political calculations. Obama can't bring himself to forgo his tax hikes, even during a recession, or to embrace structural entitlement reform, because these things would offend every redistributionist molecule in his body.
So while Obama says the Republicans won't bend, it is he who has not shown any willingness to move on taxes or entitlements. But those aren't the only issues on which he's set in stone. He has now become just as inflexible in resisting any short-term deal. He has said he will not sign a deal that does not raise the debt ceiling enough ($2.4 trillion) to get him past the 2012 election. Obviously, he doesn't want this nagging, inconvenient debt issue and wrangling with Congress to diminish his re-election prospects. Ever the statesman, he is placing his political fortunes above the interests of the nation.
In all honesty, I'm not convinced that Obama is particularly worried about the debt even today. He seems more concerned with high-speed rail, new "green" projects and other programs he and fellow statists believe are good for the people -- even if they don't.
During the Friday presser, he gave a shout-out to his like-minded progressives, telling them they should join him in getting the fiscal house in order because it would allow them to focus on their federal goody bag, "like infrastructure, like rebuilding our roads and our bridges (and) airports, like investing more in college education, like making sure that we're focused on the kinds of research and technology that's going to help us win the future."
In Obama's world, everything centers on the government, not the private sector. It was telling that in his presser, he didn't mention private-sector unemployed, only the government workers who would lose their jobs if the debt ceiling is not increased.
I was initially opposed to a short-term deal, because I thought it would be just another device to kick the can down the road and defer real spending and entitlement reform. But it is clear that given his mindset, this president cannot be entrusted with an increase in the debt ceiling that would empower him to ignore further fiscal reform until after the election.
While we fret over spooking the markets each time a budget deadline approaches, a short-term deal would keep these issues on the front burner until the election, where they need to be. It would keep the ruling class on the hot seat and enforce some degree of discipline.
Through his unreasonableness and dogmatism, Obama has isolated himself and is trying to bully Congress into having everything his way. He is holding the budget deal hostage to his redistributionist demands and his perceived political interests -- anything but addressing the existential threat facing this nation. Pray the congressional leadership can continue to keep the heat on instead of throwing him more rope to fiscally strangle the nation.
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