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Obama Shameless as Debt Crisis Looms

In his speech on Monday, the president tried to pin the blame for failing to pass the debt ceiling squarely at the feet of congressional conservatives.

by
Peter Roff

Bio

July 25, 2011 - 8:09 pm
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Late Monday new plans were introduced by both Republicans in the House and Democrats in the Senate, both of which call for spending cuts at some point without any revenue enhancements or tax increases. Contrary to what the president said in his remarks, both parties in Congress seem to have recognized that, rhetorically at least, the “cuts only” approach is all the American people want to hear about. They understand what Obama does not — the problem is spending, not a lack of revenue.

There remains hope that the crisis can be averted. As Boehner said, “There is no stalemate in Congress,” something Obama charged more than once. “The House has passed a bill to raise the debt limit with bipartisan support.  And this week, while the Senate is struggling to pass a bill filled with phony accounting and Washington gimmicks, we will pass another bill — one that was developed with the support of the bipartisan leadership of the U.S. Senate,” the Ohio Republican said.

The one part of Boehner’s plan that is sure to produce concern among his congressional allies — some of whom were quick to denounce it shortly after it was announced — is what the speaker called “a serious, bipartisan committee of the Congress will begin the hard but necessary work of dealing with the tough challenges our nation faces.”

Already being referred to as “the tax hike commission” by its critics, it is an issue Boehner will have to resolve before the plan can pass the House with a majority of GOP votes. U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who chairs the influential House Republican Study Committee, said Tuesday in a statement that he could not support the new Boehner plan.

“The credit rating agencies have been clear that no matter what happens with the debt limit, the U.S. will lose its AAA credit rating unless we produce a credible plan to reduce the debt by trillions of dollars,” Jordan said, arguing that “Cut, Cap, and Balance is the only plan on the table that meets this standard” and that “[o]nly a Balanced Budget Amendment will actually solve our debt problems.”

Through out much of his speech Obama was shameless in his pitch for new revenues to be used for new programs, warning that without a deal on the debt “we won’t have enough money to make job-creating investments in things like education and infrastructure.” Indeed, he was even cavalier in the way he talked about the current crisis, as though his mismanagement of the U.S. economy had little if anything to do with it.

“For the last decade, we have spent more money than we take in,” he said. The budget surplus the nation once enjoyed as a result of the hard work and discipline of the Gingrich Congress was, Obama said, “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.”

The financial crisis in place when he took office, Obama said, only made it worse. “The recession meant that there was less money coming in, and it required us to spend even more.” While factually correct, this is bad economic policy, policy that Obama should accept the blame for just as much as he tried to claim credit for it when he and his administration were pretending their efforts to fix the economy were working.

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Peter Roff is a contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report. A former senior political writer for United Press International, he is currently a senior fellow at the Institute for Liberty and at Let Freedom Ring, a non-partisan public policy organization.
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