The weekend’s budget meetings didn’t go smoothly.
During a 75-minute session Sunday at the White House, Obama told the congressional leaders that America is not a “banana republic,” so he won’t agree to several months-long debt increases that raise fears of a default, according to two Democratic officials familiar with the meeting.
The president argued several times that negotiators should work toward a $4 trillion package for reducing the deficit rather than the smaller one favored by Republicans, calling on them to stand up to their base to get it done. He said both parties would suffer politically, but they need to do something substantial, said a third Democratic official familiar with the meeting.
“If not now, when?” the president said to the group, according to the official.
There’s much to say about the “banana republic” line. The president has treated the federal bureaucracy as his own private policy-making arm, from the EPA to the FCC to the NLRB, pushing national policy far to the left of anything Congress has been willing to authorize. And he has spent money so recklessly that we’re in dealing with unsustainable debt as far as the eye can see.
The debt talks resume today, and the president will give a press conference before the meetings to try leading from the bully pulpit instead of his usual tactic of shirking the detail work, then leading from behind and then sniping about the results.