Friday, July 22, 2011

Pres. Obama Friday: Town Hall And Debt Talks With GOP Collapse

Friday morning President Obama told a town hall meeting today at the University of Maryland that he won’t be satisfied “until every American who wants a job can find one, and until workers are getting paychecks that actually pay the bills, until families don’t have to choose between buying groceries and buying medicine, between sending their kids to college and being able to retire in some dignity and some respect.“

Addressing the ongoing deficit negotiations, Pres. Obama told the crowd of students, parents and teachers, “this is actually a debate about you and everybody else in America and the choices that we face. ... Neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this problem, but both parties have a responsibility to solve it. If we don’t solve it, every American will suffer. Businesses will be less likely to invest and hire in America. Interest rates will rise for people who need money to buy a home or a car, or go to college. We won’t have enough money to invest in things like education and clean energy, or protect important programs like Medicare, because we’ll be paying more and more interest on this national debt and that money just flows overseas instead of being spent here on the things that we need.”

"I’m willing to sign a plan that includes tough choices I would not normally make, and there are a lot of Democrats and Republicans in Congress who I believe are willing to do the same thing, " said Pres. Obama. Stressing that debt default is not an option Pres. Obama said, “The United States of America does not run out without paying the tab. We pay our bills. We meet our obligations. We have never defaulted on our debt. We’re not going to do it now. ”

: Watch President Obama's Full News Conference on Debt Talks' Latest Breakdown - Jul 22, 2011
By Friday afternoon President Barack Obama announced the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, broke off negotiations to raise the U.S. borrowing limit despite the President offering what he called “an extraordinarily fair deal.”

Mr. Obama said it was “hard to understand” why House Speaker John Boehner would “walk away from this kind of deal.” The President said they are now out of time.

He said he has called the top Congressional leadership from both parties to a meeting Saturday at the White House to explain to him how the country will avoid defaulting on its payments after the government runs out of money on August 2.

He reiterated that he will not accept a short-term increase to the debt ceiling, saying at minimum the government needs to allow enough borrowing to get the U.S. into the next presidential term in 2013.

Mr. Obama says he had proposed significant cuts in discretionary spending and from social welfare programs. He said he had also proposed increasing tax revenue by a lower amount than had been agreed to by a bipartisan group of Senators.

Mr. Obama said top Democrats in Congress had not agreed to the deal but were willing to negotiate. He said if Republicans refuse to help find a compromise, they will be to blame for any negative consequences if the government cannot send out the 70 million checks it writes each month.

He said he was willing to go along with a back-up plan proposed by the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, that would give Mr. Obama the power to raise the debt limit while allowing Republicans to vote against the increase. He said this would accomplish the minimum necessary of allowing the U.S. to keep paying its bills. But he said he preferred to also work on solving the problem of the enormous U.S. debt and deficit.

Earlier Friday, House Speaker John Boehner blamed Democrats for the impasse, telling reporters Republicans in the House had done their job. Talks have stalled this week over stark disagreements on the need for tax hikes and severe funding cuts to social safety net programs.

Boehner's comment came as Democrats in the Senate blocked a Republican-backed plan from the House of Representatives to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for large cuts in federal spending.

In addition to slashing spending, the bill would have required Congress to approve a constitutional amendment for a balanced federal budget.

The U.S. Treasury Department, the central bank and the White House have all warned a default would have catastrophic consequences for the economy.

WSJ: Transcript of Obama’s News Conference on the Debt Ceiling

Andrew Sullivan writes in The Daily Beast, "America's Cold Civil War"

The Republican refusal to countenance any way to raise revenues to tackle the massive debt incurred largely on their watch and from a recession which started under Obama's predecessor makes one thing clear. They are not a political party in government; they are a radical faction that refuses to participate meaningfully in the give and take the Founders firmly believed should be at the center of American government. They are not conservatives in this sense. They are anarchists.

Their fiscal anarchism has now led to their threat to destabilize and possibly upend the American and global economy because they refuse to compromise an inch. They control only one part of the government, and yet they hold all of it hostage. I cannot believe they are prepared to allow the US to default rather than give an inch toward responsibility. Except I should believe it by now. Everything I have written about them leads inexorably to this moment. Opposing overwhelming public opinion on the need for a mixed package of tax hikes and spending cuts, drawing the president into a position far to the right of the right of his party, and posturing absurdly as fiscal conservatives, they are in fact anti-tax and anti-government fanatics, and this is their moment of maximal destruction.

I read George Will's retread column from the 1980s today and simply cannot fathom what he is talking about. Except, I fear I can. He is channeling Mitch McConnell. Boehner and McConnell have one goal and it is has nothing to do with the economy. It is destroying this president and this presidency. They are clearly calculating that the economic devastation their vandalism could create will so hurt the economy that it could bring them back to power through the wreckage. And they will use every smear, every lie, every canard possible to advance this goal. The propaganda channel dreamt of by Roger Ailes in the Nixon era will continue to pump poison into the body politic, until they defeat the man whose legitimacy as president they have never truly accepted.

Coming from abroad, this country seems as if it is beyond dysfunctional. It looks like a banana republic on the verge of economic collapse. Now that Nixon's dream has come true and the GOP is fundamentally the party of the Confederacy, it was perhaps naive to think they could ever accept the legitimacy of this president, or treat him with respect or act as adults in the governing process.

But this is who they are. I longed for Obama to bridge this gulf in ideology. But he cannot bridge it alone, especially when the GOP is determined to burn the bridge entirely, even when presented with a deal so tilted to the right only true fanatics could possibly walk away from it. And so the very republic is being plunged into crisis and possible depression by a single, implacable, fanatical faction. Until they are defeated, the country remains in more peril than we know.

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