Last December, I was highly critical of President Obama for yielding to Republican pressures on the extension of tax cuts from the Bush presidency. The situation appeared to be a classic Democratic politician, wilting under the pressure from the GOP. The Republican Party was willing to see unemployment benefits cease if tax cut extensions were not given to all Americans, thereby protecting those making more than $250,000 annually.
The Republican Party has been willing to take on President Obama in a game of 'chicken' because he and the Democrats continually lack the wherewithal required for the job. In attempting to leverage the president, the GOP should be aware that Obama is a considerably more formidable opponent now.
Obama appears to be displaying guts. He already promised to veto any short-term resolution to the debt ceiling crisis. White House officials hinted the president may back away from that, but Obama himself has yet to indicate he would reneg on such a promise.
The president also called for Congressional leaders of both parties to appear at the White House tomorrow to "explain to me how we are going to avoid default ..."
If, as an American, you might be tempted to blame the current (or past) president(s) about economic woes, you should be aware the President of the United States has no constitutional mandate to deal with issues concerning the budget or the national debt. The 'power of the purse' has always belonged to Congress and they have the ability to fund or stop funding on any appropriation.
Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-OH), walked away from negotiations this evening, attempting to create a 'showdown' of sorts, with the president. This morning, Boehner and House Republicans passed their own version of what they referred to as a 'cut, cap, and balance' initiative. The bill allowed for a raise in the debt ceiling to satiate Democrats. In return, Republicans wanted concessions of cuts in federal spending, caps on future expenditures, and an amendment to the Constitution requiring a balanced budget. The price was too steep for Democrats.
The bill is, at best, gamesmanship on the part of Boehner, who had to have known all along the bill was doomed in the Senate (it failed, 46-51). Even if the measure had passed, President Obama would have promptly vetoed the bill.
Now, Boehner claims, "The House has done its job ... We have a spending problem. Somebody's got to get serious about cutting spending." Fantastic sound bite, but the job has yet to be completed and Republicans wasted time in Congress on a bill they knew would fail.
The Speaker believes he has cornered President Obama -- but that is precisely where Obama wants to be. Ready to dig in and hold his ground this time.