Right on the money…
Ralph Benko, Forbes-commentary: President Barack Obama is on the verge of terminally discrediting himself by playing some very bad games very badly. The means of avoiding default are crystal clear. Obama is not just ignoring them, but evading them. He is guilty of playing Russian Roulette with America’s creditworthiness. His administration is playing Three Card Monte with the American people.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) show true courage walking away from the president’s bad faith “negotiations.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) shows himself a worthy strategist in proposing, as an emergency Plan B, to force the president to suffer the consequences of his cynical tactics if it comes to that.
The Republican leadership has taken, so far, a no new taxes stand that is principled and practical. It also is a stand that is overwhelmingly popular with the American people. That is something (Mr. President, technically it’s called “the consent of the governed”) right from the Declaration of Independence.
President Obama dismisses the value of integrity, of keeping one’s word: “… for us to be more worried about … what pledge we signed back when we were trying to run … instead of thinking about those folks is inexcusable.”
Mr. President? The voters sent their representatives to Washington in part because they made that pledge. To consider yourself somehow superior to the people who elected you to keep your promises and therefore exempt from showing integrity is naked elitism and ethically bankrupt.
Speaker Boehner has said: “Dealing with [Obama and administration officials] the last couple months has been like dealing with Jell-o.” “Dealing with Jell-o” seems to be an excellent metaphor for the president’s attitude toward keeping one’s word.
The president’s response to the conservative Republicans drawing a line in the sand determined, as best they know how, to begin to stop the spending madness? Obama and his minions such as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) heap sanctimonious vilification upon the Republican leaders.
The president and his allies are keeping up a nasty slander campaign against those who stand, as best they know how, for free markets, spending cuts, and limited government. Boehner and Cantor show real courage, knowing they will be defamed for so doing, in walking away from the table every time the Democrats pull yet another “Three Card Monte” trick — like attempting to slide in an extra hundreds of billions in tax hikes.
The president is entitled to his opinion (even against all evidence) that big government is beneficial to working people. He has put America into this mess by failing to adopt the job-creating policies that would generate more revenue. His posture is weird but that’s politics. He, however, is not entitled to pretend that he is anything less than aggressively, negatively, nastily, partisan.
The president now, with the debt ceiling negotiations, is playing one of the oldest and most reprehensible bureaucratic tricks in Washington: the Closing the Washington Monument maneuver. When told that their budget must be cut senior bureaucrats do not root out wasteful programs. Rather, they pick highly popular programs as sacrificial lambs. “To achieve these cuts we will have to close — possibly dismantle — the Washington Monument.”
Playing the angles, the permanent government of which Obama is the avatar more often than not, cunningly manages to bluff the politicos into folding. Threatening default is the Washington Monument maneuver gone thermonuclear. The GOP, and Boehner, do not appear to be falling for it.
Obama is offering a narrative of “shared sacrifice” as a means of hiking taxes and permanently growing the federal government’s share of the economy. The government permanently grows and the private sector permanently gets less. It is reminiscent of the Brezhnev Doctrine, “What’s ours is ours, what’s yours is up for grabs.”
The Republican Congressional leadership is offering — and, at last, seems to be ready to fight for — real spending cuts and no new taxes to achieve smaller government and economic growth. If Obama really wanted change he would not be vilifying conservatives as tools of the rich who are intent to loot the middle class. He’d stop with the veiled insults. But this president — a basketball player, not a baseball player — nonstop trash talks his opponents.
The game isn’t over yet but so far Boehner, Cantor and other fighters for spending cuts such as Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) deserve three cheers from smaller government, free market, budget-cutting economic growth conservatives. King laid out the Democrats’ shabby hustle with extraordinary clarity in an interview on ABC News:
We have about $200 billion a month coming into our coffers from tax receipts before we start to borrow money from American people and from abroad. That $200 billion is plenty more than enough to pay our military and service our debt. … It is irresponsible of leaders to step up and say we are going to default. America is not going to default. We are just trying to scare people into being stampeded into a debt ceiling increase. We would hold our full faith and credit together regardless unless the president had decided to punish America by refusing to pay our bills.
King pointedly notes that the debt payments and military salaries together add up only to 15% of government revenue. Chance of a reality-based default? Zero. And there are ample funds left over to pay every one of our elderly their social security and, beyond that, meet other essential outlays. Before borrowing.
How did Obama respond? Did he make a firm and credible ironclad commitment not to default to our creditors, our warriors, and our seniors? No. He used his public comments to raise anxieties and pour on the sanctimony. Rather than reassuring the American people, our allies, trading partners, and our creditors that under no circumstances will America default, the president’s comments he slyly held out default as possible and attempted to frame the Republicans to take the fall.
This is, of course, the very “politics as usual” that the president superciliously deplores and has proved himself not so much a masterful practitioner as an addict. As Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who also has shown real integrity in this showdown, earlier stated, the president “is poisoning the wells.”
And as Rep. King bluntly stated: “We would hold our full faith and credit together regardless unless the president had decided to punish America by refusing to pay our bills.” (Emphasis supplied.)
It would be shocking but not unthinkable that this president has decided it is time to “punish America.” If that is not his intent it’s time for him to end the theatrics and make an unshakeable commitment that America will not default. If, instead, he continues to play Russian Roulette with America’s reputation as an honorable borrower in order to try to get his longed-for tax hikes he will have accepted full blame when he pulls the trigger one time too many.