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Obama’s stylized “only adult in the room” persona grows weaker with each speech. Adults typically provide direction for their children. He’s done none of that. If he’s not one of the kids flinging sand in the sandbox, then he’s more like the inattentive parent off to the side on a bench gossiping on a cell phone while the kids throw sand in each others’ eyes. No discipline, no direction.
This nonchalance in the face of a huge debt crisis was evident in three ways in today's speech:
- Hey, raising the debt ceiling is no big deal. We’ve done this for decades, Obama said, so stop making a big deal about it. It’s just about paying bills we’ve already racked up and it’s not about new spending, he said. He’s clearly tone deaf to America on this point. For ordinary voters, the two go together. We’re raising the ceiling now because spending has been – and still is – out of control. Nonchalance is not leadership. Especially when we're talking about a debt ceiling that is now going to be larger than our entire economy.
- Losing our AAA rating is a tax hike on everyone, so stop opposing tax hikes on the rich, you lousy Republicans. Obama pulled out his scary talk. If Republicans don’t raise taxes, come Aug. 2 we can’t pay any bills (untrue) and then we’ll have to raise everyone’s taxes (untrue). Americans see his determination on tax increases and nonchalance on spending, and they don’t buy his line. Why does he think his numbers among independents are falling like a rock?
- Hey, we all basically agree, and where we don’t I’m ready and willing to have a productive debate. Obama said the parties basically agree on the amount of spending we need to cut, so he urged the parties to do that now and then debate tax reform and entitlements later - something he’s “ready and willing” to do. This is the most cynical can-kicking there is. He has NEVER laid out a plan on taxes or entitlements, so there’s no way he’s ready. And that means he’s unwilling. And secondly, everyone except the Geico guys living under a rock knows that spending and entitlements are tightly interwoven. Acting as though the details of the spending reductions are less important than the dollar number itself shows just how insincere this President is. He knows that Harry Reid his former Senate colleagues will do all they can to look for cuts that matter less than the big entitlement drivers of our ongoing debt.
The good thing in all of this is that Obama made no mention of timeframes and the like other than next Tuesday. He basically just said he wants a bipartisan bill he can sign. This could well be a version of the McConnell plan, to which he gave a head nod in his speech, that would put the President back in the middle of this fight next year when he’d rather be on the campaign trail.