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Just Looking: The Super Committee & Obama - Briefing Book

- November 17, 2011

Just Looking: The Super Committee and Obama

“Increasing America's Debt Weakens Us Domestically And Internationally. Leadership Means That ‘The Buck Stops Here.’ Instead, Washington Is Shifting The Burden Of Bad Choices Today Onto The Backs Of Our Children And Grandchildren. America Has A Debt Problem And A Failure Of Leadership.”

Sen. Barack Obama, Congressional Record, S.2237-8, March 16, 2006

 “If He's So Committed To Bringing Down The Nation's Debt, Why Is He Not In There Driving Toward A Solution?”

David Gregory, NBC’s “Meet The Press”, November 13, 2011

Where Is The President’s Leadership? 
Since The Super Committee Was Formed, Obama Has …

  • Called For $447 Billion In New Stimulus Spending. (“American Jobs Act Fact Sheet,” The White House, Accessed 11/16/11) 
  • Added Over $452 Billion To The National Debt. (US Treasury Department, Treasury Direct, Accessed 11/16/11) 
  • Delivered 58 Speeches, Including 23 For The American Jobs Act But Only One On Deficit Reduction. (“Speeches and Remarks,” The White House, Accessed 11/16/11) 
  • Held 32 Political Fundraisers. (“Speeches and Remarks,” The White House, Accessed 11/16/11) 
  • Spent 12 Days On Vacation. (Nia-Malika Henderson, “Obamas Plan Weekend Vacation To Gulf Coast,” The Washington Post, 7/23/11) 
  • Played Golf 11 Times. (Mark Knoller, Twitter Feed; White House DossierPoliticoThe Washington Post, Accessed 11/16/11)  
  • Held 9 Town Halls. (“Speeches And Remarks,” The White House, Accessed 11/16/11) 
  • Embarked On 2 Campaign-Style Bus Tours. (“Statements And Releases,” The White House, Accessed 11/16/11) 
  • Received The Largest Debt Ceiling Increase In History. (“FactChecking Dueling Debt Speeches,” FactCheck.Org, 7/27/11) 
  • Met With The 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears. (Laura Miller, “1985 Chicago Bears Visit The White House,” The White House, 10/7/11)
  • Presided Over The First Credit Rating Downgrade In America’s History. (George E. Condon Jr., “What A Week: Afghan Deaths, S&P, And Debt Limit Debate Challenge Obama,” National Journal, 8/6/11)
  • Closed Out His Third +$1 Trillion Deficit. (“Monthly Budget Review: November 2011,” Congressional Budget Office, 11/7/11)

 PRESIDENT OBAMA MADE A DECISION NOT TO GET INVOLVED IN THE SUPER COMMITTEE, WAGERING THAT ITS FAILURE WOULD REWARD HIM POLITICALLY

The Obama Administration Has Played “Close To No Role” In The Super Committee

According To Aides On Both Sides Of The Aisle “The White House Has Played Close To No Role Behind The Scenes” Of The Super Committee. “The White House has played close to no role behind the scenes of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, according to senior House and Senate aides on both sides of the aisle. And that doesn’t appear likely to change, unless Republicans show they are willing to budge on the president’s $447 billion jobs package or on taxing the rich.” (Steven T. Dennis and Meredith Shiner, “White House Stays Out Of Deficit Panel,” Roll Call, 11/2/11)

  • The White House Made An Early Decision To Keep Its Distance From The Super Committee. “For administration officials, the prospect of the committee’s failure reinforces the decision early on for President Obama to keep his distance, focus on his jobs plan and avoid the sort of prolonged debt-limit fight with Republicans that dragged down his approval ratings last summer.” (Jackie Calmes, “Panel Is At Impasse, But Obama Sees No Reason To Step In,” The New York Times, 11/9/11)

NBC’s David Gregory Asked “If [Obama Is] So Committed To Bringing Down The Nation's Debt, Why Is He Not In There Driving Toward A Solution?”  GREGORY: “If he's so committed to bringing down the nation's debt, why is he not in there driving toward a solution? My own reporting tells me, from people involved in those talks, that the White House has had much more of a hands-off approach to dealing with what the Super Committee will agree to on reducing the debt.” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 11/13/11)

Democrat Aides Said Obama “Has Been Largely Disengaged” And His Deficit Reduction Proposal “Wasn’t Crafted To Get GOP Votes.” “But Democratic aides from the House and Senate told Roll Call this week that the White House has been largely disengaged since offering its deficit reduction package in September — a proposal that even the White House acknowledged at the time wasn’t crafted to get GOP votes.” (Steven T. Dennis and Meredith Shiner, “White House Stays Out Of Deficit Panel,” Roll Call, 11/2/11)

Fiscal Commission Member, Alice Rivlin: “I Fear The President Is Missing A Huge Opportunity For Leadership At A Crucial Moment.” “‘I fear the president is missing a huge opportunity for leadership at a crucial moment,’ said Alice Rivlin, who was a member of Mr. Obama’s bipartisan fiscal commission in 2010, budget director to President Bill Clinton and to Congress and vice chairman of the Federal Reserve. ‘The president could greatly enhance the chances of such a bargain by getting visibly involved,’ Ms. Rivlin added. ‘It is not only the right thing to do; it is his only chance of getting his jobs program.’” (Jackie Calmes, “Panel Is At Impasse, But Obama Sees No Reason To Step In,” The New York Times, 11/9/11)

Obama Has Made A Political Decision To Keep His Distance

Obama Is Staying Away From The Super Committee Because He Does Not Think That A Compromise Can Be Reached. “White House officials say Obama doesn't want to get drawn into the 12-member panel's internal deliberations because the factions are so polarized and the president doesn't think he could forge a far-reaching compromise at this time.” (Ken Walsh, “Obama Giving The ‘Super Committee’ The Cold Shoulder,” US News & World Report, 11/3/11)

Dan Rather: “It's One Thing For Him To Say, ‘I Want Some Distance’ But He’s Going To Hawaii And Indonesia. I Think That Tells You A Lot About How Far Away He Wants To Get From This Thing.” RATHER: “The situation is very clear to the President. He doesn't want to be associated with this. It's one thing for him to say, ‘I want some distance’ but he’s going to Hawaii and Indonesia. I think that tells you a lot about how far away he wants to get from this thing.” ALEX WAGNER: “Mars is just a little too far to get to and back.” (MSNBC’s “MSNBC Live,” 11/14/11)

Read More In Our 23-Page Briefing Book On Obama's Distant Relationship With The Super Committee


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