What We Learned from Obama's Debt Address: He's Digging In and Looking for Back Up

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A game of chicken. A standoff. Gridlock. Slow-motion collision. 

With a week to go, the metaphors are flying as President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner both dug in their heels in nighttime addresses to the American people. They repeated their cases, again, and blamed the other side for standing in the way of a deal, again. And if a new poll is any indication, this approach isn't doing anybody in Washington any favors. 

While everyone's gotten covered in mud in this slug fest, President Obama knows he's viewed slightly less badly than Congressional Republicans. In his remarks, Obama blamed Washington culture for the mess, and appealed to the American people to have his back:

The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government.  So I’m asking you all to make your voice heard.  If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your member of Congress know.  If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message.

Americans are sick of just about everybody in this debate, Obama empathized, and tried to position himself as the most reasonable in a crowd of unreasonable players. He's held that slight opinion edge over Congressional Republicans throughout the debt ceiling debate, and he continues to hold it according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll out this morning. In a survey conducted just over a week ago, 38 percent of Americans approved of Obama's handling of the federal deficit, which is actually five points higher than in early June, and about ten points higher than Congressional Republicans fare on that question.

But both Obama and Republicans will get a big share of the blame if there's no deal. Voters say they'll blame Republicans over Obama by 42-36 margin, with 19 percent saying both deserve the blame. 

That was Speaker Boehner's chief message on Monday night. He repeated his case for keeping taxes low and using this debate as an opportunity to deliver a crushing blow the culture of spending in Washington. Standing in the way, he said, is President Obama. 

I want you to know I made a sincere effort to work with the president to identify a path forward that would implement the principles of Cut, Cap, & Balance in a manner that could secure bipartisan support and be signed into law. I gave it my all. Unfortunately, the president would not take yes for an answer. Even when we thought we might be close on an agreement, the president’s demands changed. The president has often said we need a ‘balanced’ approach — which in Washington means: we spend more. . .you pay more. Having run a small business, I know those tax increases will destroy jobs.

As far as priorities go, more Americans feel like Obama is aligned with the interests of "you and your family" than Congressional Republicans—but 12 percent thought neither cared too much for them. 

And despite assurances from both of them yesterday, 43 percent believe Obama and Congressional Republicans will not get a debt ceiling deal done by August 2.

That general malaise and lack of hope extends beyond the political culture in Washington. Only 15 percent of those adults surveyed said they feel like they're getting ahead, while 27 percent feel like their family's are falling behind. 

VIDEO: President Obama's Address


VIDEO: House Speaker John Boehner's Address



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Comments [10]

Argy F from NJ

The problem at hand is a debt-ceiling crisis, not a debt crisis.

All talk of debt should be tabled immediately & the resounding chant should be:

"raise the ceiling; then we will talk"

Jul. 28 2011 06:20 AM
Monatize the debt - Print $ to solve crisis from A way to solve the crisis

The U.S. could print money to retire
or repurchase debt so we fall below the
debt ceiling.

This will weaken the dollar (good for exports), increase inflation (good for the housing crisis and jobs), and stop the Republicans' extortion.

If the US Govt is smart they can enter into
swaps in advance of the announcement - thereby capturing most of the gains for the US people and treasury rather than giving it as a gift to speculators, banks and hedge funds.

Jul. 26 2011 12:47 PM

1) I see more danger of pork and waste in "economic stimuli" than benefit. The economy will grow when the US learns to produce goods that the rest of the world wants. The only economic stimulus fed.govt. should provide is education.
2) Budget must start with food, shelter, basic healthcare and national security for all citizens (unless you are willing to just let the poor die off).
3) The gap between rich and poor in the US is at all time high and among the highest of all nations. The richest do not create jobs -- they send them offshore and hoard money. Small businesses create jobs. Therefore, increase taxes on the richest, but not on small businesses.
Summary: pass bill with final increase in debt ceiling, clear steps to a balanced budget, increase personal tax rate on AGI above $10M to 50% and cut all corporate subsidies on companies with NI above $1B.

Jul. 26 2011 11:06 AM
bowerygals from nyc

The greed driven economy no longer bothers to shield the theft of wealth from the rest of us. The insecurities of the very rich can't be appeased in these schemes and the rest of us and the world are driven further into ruin. People grow weary of this overt and noxious devaluing of their lives and their children's lives and at some point, not unlike other parts of the world, will respond.
Excerpted from Democracy Now...

The Government Accountability Office audit of the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending programs revealed the Fed provided more than $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses.

These $16 trillion worth of loans were all for junk securities. They weren’t for the solid securities that did back out the deposits. These were all for junk gambles. They had nothing to do with the real economy - at all.

Sheila Bair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, just finishing her 5 year term, talked about the arguments that were going on while all of this money was being given away. She opposed it. She said none of this money, not a penny, had to be given away at all. She said the job of the FDIC was to do exactly what it did with Washington Mutual and IndyMac. She said they could have closed down Citibank, AIG and the others. Depositors insured by the FDIC wouldn’t have lost a penny. "That’s what the FDIC does."

She was overruled by Geithner and by the Treasury Department, and especially by Bernanke, who essentially said they had to save the rich first: save the gamblers.

The result was that, while many of the $16 trillion have been repaid, there has been a residue of $13 trillion added to the government debt since September 2008, when all of this began. All of this was created simply on a computer keyboard at the Treasury.

If they can create a $13 trillion on a computer keyboard and the Federal Reserve can simply give this money, why can’t they pay the trillion dollars for the Medicare and the Social Security?

Jul. 26 2011 10:53 AM
aaron fleszar from Detroit MI

Please allow me to be civil and brief. A coup d'etat began in 2008 with the introduction of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate. Did you really think they planned on reforming Washington by getting elected? Think again. American's have been forced to sit and watch 3 years of political theater including these debt talks. Learn what is really going on

Jul. 26 2011 10:43 AM
GOP out of Line from Texas

GOP made their point, but Obama is our president.

GOP Bush behaviour caused us to be in this situation and let us into the recession, so they should not try to blame Obama for trying to keep the country afloat.

I am afraid that hard core extreme GOP politicians will prefer a US economic meltdown to try to tarnish Obama presidency.

If the US defaults, the GOP people in charge should be impeached for treason, since they are defending the companies and wealthy tax breaks, they represent, instead of us, the PEOPLE of the US of AMERICA...

We Americans have to take the country back from the greed and corruption that big interest is buying with their money.

John Boehner read my lips "OBAMA IS OUR PRESIDENT".. You are not, and you will never be if you drive our country to economic disaster.. REPLUBLICANS stopped fighting and SERVE the country and not the corporations and wealthy interests that you are serving.


I will never vote Republican again if the GOP leads us to disaster..

Jul. 26 2011 10:42 AM
Dan Collins from Dallas

"As far as priorities go, more Americans feel like Obama is aligned with the interests of "you and your family" than Congressional Republicans—but 12 percent thought neither cared to [too] much for them.

And despite assurances from both of them yesterday, 43 percent believe Obama and Congressional Republicans will not get a debt ceiling deal done by August 2.

That general malaise and lack of hope extends beyond the political culture in Washington. Only 15 percent of those adults surveyed said they feel like they're getting head [ getting head? ], while 27 percent feel like their family's are falling behind.

Editor: See typos in brackets above.

Jul. 26 2011 10:34 AM
Paul S

Although congress has low ratings everyone thinks its someone elses congressman/person who is at fault
President Obama will be faced with a simple question when he runs Do you want 4 more years of this? Doesn't matter whether people see the question as pertaining to the economy of the debt limit - i don't see how he comes out ahead if that is the question

Jul. 26 2011 10:17 AM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

The GOP has no credibility on this issue.

In order to satisfy the TPA-types they are willing to put ALL of us at risk. Here are my reasons:

1) The GOP had control of both houses and the executive from 2000 through 2006. During this time they took a budget that was in balance and broke it with tax cuts, two wars and a prescription drug plan without cutting programs our raising taxes to pay for them. Bush left the office with $1T deficits. Countercyclical spending to blunt the recession raised the deficit to $1.4T. Cutting gov't spending too quickly pushes the country back into recession but they don't care.

2) Of our current national priorities, cuts to entitlements, balancing the budget and spiking demand to bring back jobs, the priority should be to spike demand to bring back jobs. That IS the message the American supposedly sent in November 2010. Metaphorically, the GOP is picking the paint colors while the house framing still needs to be finished.

The GOP has shown they are willing to RISK US ALL and prolong the effects of the recession rather than act in the interest of America. If this is the only path they have back to the White House, god help us.

Jul. 26 2011 10:00 AM

Paying attention to the debt ceiling/budget debate at this stage is rather like watching the first three quarters of a basketball game. Both are of interest only to process wonks.

I'll do my best to ignore the whole thing until, say, August 3rd. That should be the next date of importance in the actual final outcome.

Jul. 26 2011 09:55 AM

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