Linda Chavez
When the history of the debt limit fight is written, the failure of presidential leadership will constitute a major chapter.

Once again, President Obama has proven himself lacking in the most fundamental attribute necessary to the office he occupies: leadership. His idea of leading his party and the American people in a crisis is to give a speech, as he did earlier this week in prime time. But when it comes to fashioning a concrete plan or rallying support of his own troops, he's missing in action.

Contrast President Obama's leadership to that of House Speaker John Boehner, who not only has worked diligently to come up with real numbers matched to federal programs to reduce future debt but has been personally engaged in trying to persuade skeptics within his party to go along. And when the Congressional Budget Office determined the GOP numbers didn't add up as claimed, Boehner went back to the drawing board to come up with new ones that delivered what they promised. As of this writing, the vote on the Boehner plan has yet to occur -- but win or lose, the speaker has demonstrated he's willing to lead.

But Obama's only contribution to the debt-ceiling debate has been partisan, class-warfare rhetoric. In his televised address earlier this week, Obama blamed Republicans for failing to produce a bill he'd be willing to sign because it would not include a tax rate increase on families and small businesses earning more $250,000 a year. Those Americans already foot the bill for more than 60 percent of all federal income taxes collected in the U.S., despite constituting less than 5 percent of taxpayers. The wealthy pay their fair share and then some.

Even if fairness weren't a consideration, a tax increase at a time when the nation's economy is hovering on the brink of a double-dip recession is a dangerous idea. But it plays well to Obama's political base, which wants someone else to pay for their entitlements.

And if Obama's cynicism weren't bad enough on the class-warfare front, he blames all the nation's problems on his predecessor. Perhaps the most disingenuous line in the president's speech was blaming his predecessor entirely for creating the debt crisis.

"For the last decade, we've spent more money than we take in," Obama said. "In the year 2000, the government had a budget surplus. But instead of using it to pay off our debt, the money was spent on trillions of dollars in new tax cuts, while two wars and an expensive prescription drug program were simply added to our nation's credit card."


Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .

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