Avoiding Electoral Default

- July 26, 2011

Obama’s Political Playbook Risks Default For Electoral Gain   


Obama And His Campaign In Chicago View Debt Ceiling Debate Through 2012 Presidential Election Prism. “Operatives in Chicago are closely watching the GOP presidential field and are taking a longer-term view of debt ceiling politics. They figure it can’t hurt to keep Obama talking about fat cats enjoying tax breaks, but they also want to highlight the Republicans’ support for House-approved plans that dramatically cut Medicare.” (Christina Bellantoni, “In Politics Of The Debt, Nobody Is Winning,” Roll Call, 7/26/11)

Obama’s 2008 Campaign Manager Is In Charge Of The White House’s Debt Ceiling Strategy. “David Plouffe, the President’s 2008 campaign manager and now a senior adviser, has become the behind-the-scenes voice spelling out Obama’s new debt strategy.” (David Rogers, “Debt Talk Turns To Tax Reform,” Politico, 7/7/11)

Obama’s Campaign Team Only Interested In A Deal Because It Would “Provide An Enormous Boost To His 2012 Campaign.” “Obama’s political advisers have long believed that securing such an agreement would provide an enormous boost to his 2012 campaign, according to people familiar with White House thinking. In particular, they want to preserve and improve the president’s standing among political independents, who abandoned Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections and who say reining in the nation’s debt is a high priority.” (Zachary A. Goldfarb, “Obama Takes Political, Policy Gamble On ‘Big Deal’,” The Washington Post, 7/24/11)

“Obama Has Been A Late Convert To The Notion That Deficit Reduction Is An Urgent National Priority.” (Peter Nicholas, “Mixed Messages Complicate White House Debt Strategy,” Los Angeles Times, 7/25/11)


Obama’s Prime Time Speech “More Like A DNC Fund-Raiser Than An Oval Office Address.”  “The Obama Presidency has been unprecedented in many ways, and last night we saw another startling illustration: A President using a national TV address from the White House to call out his political opposition as unreasonable and radical and blame them as the sole reason for the ‘stalemate’ over spending and the national debt. We've watched dozens of these speeches over the years, and this was more like a DNC fund-raiser than an Oval Office address.” (Editorial, “A Leadership Default,” The Wall Street Journal, 7/25/11)

MSNBC’s Chris  Matthews: “The President shouldn't have gone on national television to give a political address.” (MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show,” 7/25/11)

Purpose Of Obama’s Speech Was To Position “Himself For Failure” In Hope That The Public Will Not Blame Him. “The most rational explanation for Obama's speech is that he's positioning himself for failure. He's explaining his position so that when Congress fails to lift the debt ceiling, Americans will blame the Republicans and not him.” (Jonathan Chait, “Obama Prepares For Stalemate,” The New Republic, 7/25/11)


Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Admitted Obama Wanted To Get The Debt Ceiling Out Of The Way Before The 2012 Election. TIMOTHY GEITHNER: “Chris, let me tell you what we're trying to do, what the president is trying do, is, first and most important, we have to lift this credit default from the economy for -- you know, for the next 18 months. We have to take that threat off the table through the election.” (Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday,” 7/24/11)

White House Chief Of Staff Bill Daley Made It Clear Obama Will Veto Anything That Doesn’t Move The Debt Ceiling Off The 2012 Election Agenda. NBC’S DAVID GREGORY: “All right, I just want to be clear. The president would veto a plan if it does not extend the debt ceiling into 2013?” BILL DALEY: “Yes, the president believes that we must get this uncertainty--in order to help the American economy and help the American people we must get this uncertainty out of the, out of the system.” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 7/24/11)

  • Daley: “But it must be extended in a way that gives certainty to the economy through '13 and not some short-term gimmick where we're right back in this fix in six or eight months, and the world looks at us once again and says--in the middle of a political election year of presidential politics…” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 7/24/11)

Obama’s Ultimatum: Debt Ceiling Increase Through 2013 More Important Than Risking Default. ABC NEWS’ JAKE TAPPER: “So the President a few weeks ago said in negotiations that he hoped that everybody would leave their ultimatums at the door.  I count four ultimatums and they were -- all four of them were brought in, two of them are the President’s and two of them are the Republicans’.  The Republicans’, obviously, is no tax increases and it has to be a dollar for dollar raising the debt ceiling versus deficit reduction.  The President’s are, this has to go through 2013, as Ben asked about, and that it has to have tax increases.  Can you explain to the American people why the ultimatum that this has to go through 2013 is important?  Because you and I talked about this, and I still don’t understand why that ultimatum is more important than avoiding the risk of default?” (White House Press Briefing, Washington, D.C., 7/21/11)

Richmond Times-Dispatch“Obama does not want anyone to think about the debt again until after the 2012 election. Washington could have reached a deal on a short-term debt-limit hike weeks ago — if the president were not so consumed with thoughts of himself.” (Editorial, “Budget Talks: President ‘No’,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7/26/11)

  • “Questions About The Country's Astronomical Debt Would Draw Attention To The President's Policies, Which Have Increased Federal Spending 30 Percent In The Past Three Years.” (Editorial, “Budget Talks: President ‘No’,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7/26/11) 


Obama Rejected Bipartisan Deal Presented To Him By Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker John Boehner, And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Republicans in Congress charge that President Obama last night rejected a bipartisan deal offered to him by Congressional leaders of both parties which would have provided for a short-term extension of the debt limit in order to avoid a U.S. Government default. The agreement involved Speaker Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Reid and Senate GOP Leader McConnell - in fact, staffers from Reid and McConnell's offices were working on the legislative language together on Sunday. But when Reid took the bipartisan/bicameral plan down to the White House, it was rejected by the President.” (Jamie Dupree, “President Rejected Debt Deal,” Cox Media Group, 7/25/11)


Obama White House Said “Leadership Is Not Proposing A Plan For The Sake Of Having It Voted Up Or  Down…” ABC’s JAKE TAPPER: “Would this not be an opportune time for a president to lead and say this specific --” WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: "Leadership is not proposing a plan for the sake of having it voted up or down and likely voted down…” (Jay Carney, Remarks At White House Press Briefing, 7/19/11)

CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf Says Obama’s Latest Budget Outline From His April Speech Is Too Vague To Be Scored. REP. PAUL RYAN: “The president gave a speech on April 13th, where he outlined a new budget framework that claims $4 trillion in deficit reduction over 12 years, have you estimated the budget impact of this framework?” ELMENDORF: “No, Mr. Chairman. We don’t estimate speeches. We need much more specificity than was provided in that speech for us to do our analysis.” (Committee On The Budget, U.S. House Hearing,, 6/23/11)

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