July 22, 2011

The Obama plan IS 'no plan'

There is no plan.
There's one obvious point that I think is being largely missed in the right blogoshpere with regards to the debt ceiling and the budget cuts debate. If not being missed, perhaps it is being skimmed over but it is an important point that should be a Republican talking point at every interview they get - be it on Fox, CNN or MSNBC.
The point is that we can say with virtual certainty that the President is playing politics with the debt ceiling. The reason for that certitude is that while he is trashing the GOP plan he has put no plan on the table whatsoever. That is clearly deliberate.

(1) The president is trying to avoid any culpability.

This is the less dramatic point so let me deal with it quickly.  The president can avoid any of the fallout of negative consequences of a bad result of the deal by claiming he signed what was offered for the good of the country, even though he realized the benefit was the debt ceiling and the downside was terrible because he knew the Republican plan was a bad one.  He stays clean, the GOP get tarred and feathered with the continued high unemployment numbers and he gets to continue to look like the great idea guy who can't get his ideas through the Washington gridlock, so he's simply doing the best he can with the options available to him.  He's on your side, America - he said so.  That's the plan.

(2) He's trying to avoid being picked apart by GOP.

His politics all along have been that of a bomb-throwing outsider. You can't do that from inside the gates of power. And certainly it is far easier to criticize than it is to formulate.  So it much better politically for President Obama to focus on the flaws in the GOP plan than it is to come up with his own that could far more easily be shot full of holes - especially when the majority of America agrees with GOP position according to CNN's latest poll (although not the CNN commentariat).

Think about it.  Obama is speeches, not specifics. Obamacare was really Pelosicare.  She drove it, he as always was what he calls leading from behind.  But that's not leading.  It's a loud, noisy client sort of mentality.  It's "I want this - get me that."  It's not leadership.  And it's not public service, it's self-service, especially if after he gets it, like with Obamacare he gloms his name onto it and owns it.  He has the luxury of not leading from behind, but leading post-fallout so he can gauge whether he wants to take credit or cast blame.

From that stance the McConnell plan with specific conditions attached might be the best political option for the GOP. Conditions like if we give you the opportunity to up the limit then you must report back to Congress what cuts you would match the debt ceiling hike with.  That's precisely why Democrats don't like the McConnell plan - it forces Obama to come up with a plan and specific details either by action or even by inaction. Inaction itself is a giveaway as much as action as to the motivations of the president. Or a clue to his inability to govern and lead, and/or his hyper-partisan progressivist agenda. It's a clever trap - one that conservatives are overlooking the upside to, by focusing on doing what is right.  Maybe right long term might require a step back by giving the President enough rope to hang himself [that is NOT a KKK/racist metaphor] politically.  With him gone from the White House, and a Republican Congress and Senate, real debt reduction can get done between 2013 and 2016.  It's an option.  Maybe not as good as getting real meaningful change right now, but it's not a bad fallback plan.

Charles Krauthammer's plan also works - buy 5 months and come back to it.  It boxes in Obama to his talk on the debt ceiling's paramount importance.  If he vetoes the $500 billion in cuts coupled with $500 billion in ceiling extension, he's more concerned about having to revisit this before the next election than he is worried about the country's fiscal well-being.  I think it would work even better politically if coupled with my idea to out-BIG Obama.  Give the president the opportunity to also veto not something grand - $4 trillion - but something super-duper grand - $10 trillion.  Oh wait, if $4 trillion was something really big, something even bigger is not even better?  His vision for big cuts necessary for the country will be exposed as the fraud they really are.  Coupled with Krauthammer's smaller cuts that expose the political nature of his no plans, we get the full suite of exposed approach - he doesn't want to cut, he doesn't want to open himself to criticism, he wants to criticize the GOP, and he doesn't really have a lot of ideas to put forward (or just can't handle the responsibility of having to specify what to cut).  That's a trifecta of exposure.  

This really is a winning opportunity for the GOP politically.  In that regard, there isn't a ton of downside in sticking to their guns and putting forward ideas the president finds personally unpalatable.  After all, 'we won'. Hopefully they don't throw that away.


  1. Oh there is no culpability for BO to be sure..but there is a plan. Let his cronies load up the "Gang of Six" plan with all kinds of pork subsidies and handouts to special victims groups as payoffs for 2012. Read the fine print.

  2. For sure that's the intent, but he doesn't want to put forward a plan before the fact. He only wants to take credit after the fact. He'll use Democrats (or the Gang of 6) to get his special interest constituencies paid back, but he wants to keep his hands clean.


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