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His Jello-Ness, The President

- July 27, 2011

In The Debate Over Our Debt, Obama Has Stood For Nothing And Fallen For Anything Politically Convenient 

“When It Comes To Deficit Reduction And Entitlement Reform, President Barack Obama Has Been A Master Of Mixed Signals.” (Carol Budoff Brown, Glenn Thrush and David Nather, “Showtime For President Ambivalent About Deficit,” Politico, 4/12/11)

WHEN IT COMES TO LEADING ON FISCAL MATTERS, OBAMA HAS BEEN QUICK TO ENDORSE PLANS AND EVEN QUICKER TO SPLIT

Obama Set Up And Then Ditched His Own Fiscal Commission

Obama Appointed A Fiscal Commission …

 “[W]ith Congressional Democrats Due To Face Voters In November, Obama Punted The [Deficit] Problem To The Bipartisan Panel …” “[W]ith congressional Democrats due to face voters in November, Obama punted the problem to the bipartisan panel, formally known as the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and ordered it to deliver a solution by Dec. 1, well after the fall elections.” (Lori Montgomery, “GOP Leaders Agree To Panel On Federal Deficit,” The Washington Post, 2/19/10)

And Then Tabled Their Recommendations

The New York Times: "With the budget he is to unveil Monday, President Obama has not opted for the bold, comprehensive approach to reining in the fast-growing federal debt that his own fiscal commission has said is needed, now."  (Jackie Calmes, "A Cautious Approach Seeking Bipartisan Appeal," The New York Times,2/13/11)

  • CNN’s Jessica Yellin: “The president ordered a deficit commission forum. They recommended overhauling entitlements, and then the budget doesn't touch it. What was the point having a debt commission then?  (CNN’s “The Situation Room” 2/14/11)

Obama Released A “Remarkably Tame” Budget And Then Disavowed It

Obama Released A Budget That Was “Remarkably Tame” …

Los Angeles Times"The proposal was a remarkably tame response to Washington's fiscal problems, not the bold statement about belt-tightening that the White House had suggested was coming." (Editorial, "Obama's Overly Tame Budget," Los Angeles Times, 2/15/11)

And Then Abandoned It

After The CBO Totaled The Red Ink In Obama’s Budget, The President Choose To Replace It With A Speech In April Too Vague To Be Scored. “In February, President Obama submitted his budget. The CBO reported that it would steeply boost the national debt. In April, the president released a revised deficit-reduction plan so short on detail that the CBO deemed it too vague to evaluate.” (Editorial, “This Is Not A Poker Game,” The Post And Courier (Charleston, SC), 6/17/11)

Obama Gave A Budget Speech And Then Put Biden In Charge Of The Details

Obama Gave Americans A Combative Outline Of His Fiscal Beliefs …

The Atlantic’s Clive Crook: “The Speech Was More Notable For Its Militant--Though Ineffectual--Hostility To Republican Proposals Than For Any Fresh Thinking Of Its Own. It Was A Waste Of Breath.” (Clive Crook, “Obama’s Speech Was A Waste Of Breath,” The Atlantic, 4/13/11)

  • Crook: “There Was No Sign Of Anything Worth Calling A Plan To Curb Borrowing Faster Than In The Budget.” (Clive Crook, “Obama’s Speech Was A Waste Of Breath,” The Atlantic, 4/13/11)
  • Crook: “He Spent More Of His Time Stressing What He Would Not Agree To Than Describing Clear Proposals Of His Own.” (Clive Crook, “Obama’s Speech Was A Waste Of Breath,” The Atlantic, 4/13/11)

But Left The Details To Biden

Obama Tasked Biden With Negotiating A Deficit-Reduction Package. “[W]hen Obama needed someone to forge a deal with Congress, he summoned his second- in-command. … Biden, who directed the White House campaign to reach an accord on this year’s budget and avoid a government shutdown, will now head negotiations between Republican and Democratic lawmakers to come up with a plan by the end of June for comprehensive debt reduction.” (Kate Andersen Brower, “Biden Emerges To Lead Deficit Talks With Obama’s ‘Full-Accord’,” Bloomberg, 4/19/11)

IN THE LAST TWO WEEKS, OBAMA HAS BOUNCED BETWEEN PLANS, INCLUDING ONE WHICH DOESN’T SATISFY HIS CORE DEMAND FOR MORE TAXES

Obama Came To An Agreement With Speaker Boehner 
Before Deciding He Wanted More Taxes

Obama Reached An Agreement With Boehner To Cut $3 Trillion …

Obama Came To A Tentative Agreement With Speaker Boehner. “Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner did tentatively agree to more than $3 trillion in savings over 10 years — at least hundreds of billions more than is called for in the fallback plans now bandied about in Congress to clear the way for a vote to increase the $14.3 trillion borrowing ceiling by next Tuesday.” (Jackie Calmes, “A ‘Unique Opportunity’ On The Debt Ceiling, Lost,” The New York Times, 7/26/11)

But Then Obama Moved The Goalposts In Favor Of Higher Taxes

But Obama Sabotaged The Agreement When New Tax Increases Caught His Eye. “But taxes were the rub: Mr. Boehner has said he quit when Mr. Obama insisted on $400 billion more in revenues above the $800 billion they had agreed to. … Mr. Obama sought $400 billion more after the so-called Gang of Six senators, including three of the Senate’s most conservative Republicans, proposed a debt-reduction plan calling for more new revenues than Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner had been discussing — leaving the president more vulnerable to rebellion from within his own party.” (Jackie Calmes, “A ‘Unique Opportunity’ On The Debt Ceiling, Lost,”The New York Times, 7/26/11)

Obama Then Endorsed The Gang Of Six Plan, Before Saying He’d Take 
The McConnell-Reid Fallback If He Had To

Obama Hailed The Gang Of Six Plan …

Obama Then Endorsed The Gang Of Six Plan. “President Obama on Tuesday hailed as ‘good news’ a deficit-reduction package announced by the Senate’s Gang of Six. Obama, making his third appearance in eight days in the White House briefing room, appeared to endorse the plan, which would reduce the deficit by $3.7 trillion over the next decade and eliminate $1 million in tax loopholes.” (Sam Youngman, “Obama Endorses Gang Plan As ‘Good News,’” The Hill, 7/19/11)

Then Said He’d Take On The Responsibility Of Raising The Ceiling Himself

Obama Said He Would Take The McConnell-Reid Plan If That Is What He Could Get. “But as I’ve said before, Republican Leader McConnell in the Senate put forward a plan that said he’s going to go ahead and give me the responsibility to raise the debt ceiling. That way folks in Congress can vote against it, but at least it gets done. I’m willing to take the responsibility. That’s my job. So if they want to give me the responsibility to do it, I’m happy to do it.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks By The President, Washington, D.C., 7/22/11)

Now He Has Latched On To Reid’s Proposal, Despite It Lacking
The Tax Increases He Repeatedly Says That He Wants

Obama Endorsed The Reid Plan As A “Reasonable Approach”

White House Statement Calls Reid Plan A “Reasonable Approach That Should Receive The Support Of Both Parties.” “Senator Senator Reid’s plan is a reasonable approach that should receive the support of both parties, and we hope the House Republicans will agree to this plan so that America can avoid defaulting on our obligations for the first time in our history.” (Office Of The Press Secretary, “Statement By The Press Secretary,” WhiteHouse.gov, 7/25/11)

Even Though It Lacks The Taxes He Has Repeatedly Demanded

“In A Notable Retreat,” Obama Supports Reid’s Plan Despite Its Lack Of Tax Increases. “Obama reiterated his call for achieving lower deficits though spending cuts and new tax revenues. But in a notable retreat, he voiced support for a Senate Democratic plan that would reduce deficits by about $2.7 trillion over 10 years only with spending cuts, not with additional revenue.” (Jim Kuhnenn, “Rival Plans Ensnarl Congress Over Debt Ceiling,” The Associated Press, 7/26/11)

NOW OBAMA STANDS ALONE AS THE ONLY PLAYER 
STILL DEMANDING TAX INCREASES

CNN’s Gloria Borger:  "At least in the short term, nobody today is talking about tax increases except Barack Obama.  Who still talked about that tonight in his speech.  The plan by Harry Reid contains no tax increases, in the short term.  The plan by John Boehner contains no tax increases." (CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight,” 7/25/11)

The Wall Street Journal: “One Irony Is That Mr. Obama’s Demands For Tax Increases Have Already Been Abandoned By Members Of His Own Party In The Senate.” “One irony is that Mr. Obama's demands for tax increases have already been abandoned by Members of his own party in the Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid knows that Democrats running for re-election next year don't want to vote to raise taxes, so he's fashioning a bill to raise the debt ceiling that includes only reductions in spending. But Mr. Obama never mentioned that rather large fact about Mr. Reid's effort.” (Editorial, “A Leadership Default,” The Wall Street Journal, 7/26/11)

Roll Call: Obama “Reiterated His Push For Revenues, Even Though Senate Democrats Caved On That Issue.” “The president reiterated his push for revenues, even though Senate Democrats caved on that issue when Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) offered his alternative debt ceiling proposal Monday.” (Steven T. Dennis, “Obama And Boehner Trade Blame For Stalemate,” Roll Call, 7/25/11)


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