In a fiery speech last night, President Obama gave Speaker Boehner and the Republican leaders a verbal shellacking, as he spoke about Boehner’s call to walk away from the debt ceiling talks, saying he’s ” been left at the altar now a couple of times”. In the past, President Obama has used childlike references to the GOP in saying it’s a eat your peas moment and do your homework on time. Yesterday, Obama spoke bluntly of the Republicans’ failure to lead the country. And if you play childish games, you need to be spoken to and lashed out like children.
The American people are looking for leadership, not political games, ploys or tactics. They are not looking for 2 year old adults who can only say no to everything. President Obama even asked last night, can they say yes to anything. At present, it doesn’t appear so. They walked away from a deal proposal that even a lot of Republican voters are puzzled as to why it couldn’t be done. Far from approval of the Democratic leadership and distasteful to many progressive Democrats, the Democrats were willing to engage in serious negotiations, “despite a lot of heat from a lot of interest groups around the country”, says Obama. Obama made clear the Democrats stepped up in ways to show that they’re willing to work on the tough issues that the Republicans ran away from.
Instead the GOP tactics put at risk 70 million checks, including social security, veterans, disability, business contractors providing services to the federal government and many more. And if 70 million checks are put at risk, “that is not going to be good for economic growth”. The Republican proposal wants to “essentially ask nothing of corporate jet owners, it asks nothing of oil and gas companies” and people who have done extremely well economically. Instead, the Republican plan wants to tilt our country’s revenues on the backs of the poor and middle-class families.
And so where does that leave us and President Obama. Obama summoned Boehner, Mitch McConnell,. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to meet him at 11:00 on Saturday. The time has run out for playing games. Work must get done. If the Republicans can’t do the work, then give President Obama the authority to raise the debt ceiling and take responsibility for it. He’s willing to risk any political consequences for doing it rather than the more adverse consequences to the country from not doing it.
President Obama’s bottom line is the debt ceiling must be extended through 2013. And that’s based on how difficult it is to get any deal done. We can’t keep going through this every 8 months or so. And if the Republicans want to lead, then they should lead instead of running away like cowards or bullies.
And if anyone should be saying no, it should be the voters in 2012. No, to more Republican shenanigans and yes to Democratic leadership.
Debbie Hines is a legal and political commentator who founded LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on law and politics focusing on race and gender issues. She also contributes to the Huffington Post and the Women’s Media Center. She is frequently seen and heard in the media addressing issues. on race and gender in politics and law.