Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Today's Press Conference

Part 1 (from theobamadiary.com)

The President answered all my questions today. How about you? Here are the key points I heard:

  • The President will not negotiate the CR or the debt ceiling. No wiggle. No slight restating. No change.
  • Why is he not willing to negotiate? He will negotiate any and every thing - after we have a clean CR and a clean debt raise.
  • Hasn't there always been negotiating over the debt ceiling? Didn't he do it in 2011? In the 2011 case, he did not enter his discussions with Boehner in the presence of a default threat. That came up when their deal fell apart. And it was a close thing. In earlier years and earlier debt ceiling raises, there was lots of posturing, but no explicit default threat. No opposition leader has ever said "We are on a path to default," before or during negotiations.
  • There are no secret silver bullets that will be revealed after the October 17 drop dead date has passed. Obama feels that issuing Treasury Bonds and selling them to the public, without a debt ceiling raise would cloud the legal provenance of the bonds so issued, and mess up the market and devalue our bonds.
  • One reporter asked whether the idea being looked at by the GOP for a new form of a Supercommittee might be a way around the impasse, a sort of "concession made without conceding". Obama said the GOP could set up any process they want for new budget discussions. He even said they could attach this to the CR and debt ceiling resolutions he needs, but he needs those resolutions to be unconditional. He did not specifically say this, but I think it is clearly implied in his other statements: any new "going-forward" process, like a new Supercommittee, cannot have "triggers" that could lead to a shutdown or a default.
  • The ongoing GOP chatter that a default won't happen, or wouldn't be too terrible, because the Government can prioritize payments, to be certain bondholders get paid, is miles off the mark. Not paying other legal, sovereign obligations, even if we pay bondholders, still puts the country in the "deadbeat" category, which will harm the full faith and credit of the United States.
  • The President remains hopeful that the GOP will come around and send him a clean bill before the October 17 drop dead date.
The President spoke well - relaxed, clear, not apparently angry, thoughtful, upbeat. You got the feeling that the whole thing is incredibly clear to him, and he is pretty sure the other side will see the light before it's too late.

The biggest risk I see is that the MSM's "false equivalence" presentation and atmosphere will get stronger and stronger as we approach next Thursday's deadline. "It's un-American not to negotiate." "There is no choice but to throw Boehner a lifeline." "No side can win it all." "Unconditional surrender may work in a World War, but not in a political fight." And so on. Many Dems think he'll do it, since he appears to have done it before.

What do you think? It's the only risk I see out there.

I'm convinced he won't budge. And probably on the last day, possibly in the last moments, he will get the clean debt ceiling resolution he needs. I think he'll get a clean CR as well; but on this one I am not as sure.

What an amazing time. We are witnessing in real time a Gettysburg moment for a major political party, the Republicans. They will lose the House in 2014. Hillary (or Biden, or Warren- it really doesn't matter) will cream them in 2016 (7-10% margin). 

America is going through a political transformation that may not be fully apparent until the dust settles after the 2016 election - a change process that is full of possibility, as well as great risk. None of us, I am sure, believes that the GOP will "go gently into that good night." There will be anger, and not a little unrest.

I am excited AND nervous.

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