Let the political posturing begin! Over the past several days seemingly every Democrat in Washington formed a line to tell anyone willing to listen that they would not negotiate over the debt limit.
President Obama got into the act, vowing not to repeat the fight he had last year over raising the debt limit.
“While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress about whether or not they should pay the bills they have already racked up,” Obama said in remarks after his fiscal cliff victory.
Nancy Pelosi wants to take it one step further. Not only does she not want to negotiate a debt ceiling hike, she doesn’t want Congress to have to vote on it at all. If she were president (and thank heavens she’s not), she says she wouldn’t hesitate to read the 14th Amendment in such a way that it would vitiate the need for a debt ceiling deal.
“I would do it in a second,” Pelosi said during her most recent weekly press briefing. “But I’m not the president of the United States.”
If Pelosi was pressed to negotiate, she made it clear that deficit reduction should be achieved through more tax hikes, not reduced spending.
“The President had originally said he wanted $1.6 trillion in revenue,” Pelosi said on Face the Nation. “He took it down to 1.2 as a compromise in this legislation. We get $620 billion dollars . . . but that is not enough on the revenue side.”
When asked if Democrats should be willing to make some common sense reforms to entitlement programs – the biggest drivers of future deficits – Pelosi said, “We already have,” pointing – apparently without a hint of irony – to Obamacare.
Yes, adding brand new trillion-dollar entitlement to the federal balance sheet apparently qualifies as entitlement “reform” among Democrats.
All this posturing highlights just how broken Washington is. Democrats spend more time plotting the politics of any prospective debt limit deal than they do coming up with ways to fix spending – which everyone agrees is a problem.
Fortunately, all sense of reason and responsibility is not lost in our nation’s capitol. Here’s one sensible senator explaining the importance of getting the federal government’s spending habits under control:
“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies . . . Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”
Unfortunately, that senator was Barack Obama, who is apparently very content living out the “leadership failure” he previously lamented.
That’s a fact that should not only sadden Republicans, but Americans. The fiscal cliff hinted and the posturing over the debt limit has proved that Democrats are willing to go to great lengths to maintain, indeed grow, spending. As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Meet the Press this morning,
“It’s a shame that we have to use whatever leverage we have in Congress to get the president to deal with the biggest problem confronting our future, and that’s our excessive spending.”
It’s a real shame we can’t even get them to the negotiating table.