Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Obama's own political maneuvering coming back to bite

As the Republicans take over the House today, one of the looming debates is over raising the debt limit. There are Republicans who want to get some major concessions on spending before they vote to raise the limit. However, the White House economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, is out there warning against any playing politics with the vote.
"The impact on the economy would be catastrophic," Goolsbee told "This Week" on ABC. "That would be a worse financial economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008."

Goolsbee added: "I don't see why anybody's talking about playing chicken with the debt ceiling."
It's a vote that politicians will have to swallow hard and take. They might, like Lindsey Graham advocates, be able to trade some real reforms of entitlements and a return to pre-recession spending levels, but the debt ceiling will get raised.

But let us return a few years to when Barack Obama was a young senator and the Republicans controlled the Congress and White House. Back then he had a different approach to the vote on raising the debt ceiling.
That’s a sharp contrast from the position of Obama in 2006, while serving as an Illinois senator. Obama joined all Senate Democrats to oppose the 2006 debt limit increase.

“Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren,” Obama said in 2006. “America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership.”

Obama later missed two votes in 2007 and 2008 while campaigning for president. Many Democrats who opposed the 2006 increase flipped their position once they took control of the Senate.
Yup, the irony is coming back to bite. Any Republican who wants to posture and vote against raising the debt ceiling will have an automatic defense from accusations of playing chicken. "Hey, we're just doing what Obama himself did when he was in the Senate."