Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Obama considers calling his own bluff

The news out of the debt-ceiling discussions today is that President Obama and the House GOP are discussing passing a short-term debt-ceiling increase while they work on a bigger deal for later.
Obama and congressional leaders continued scrambling on Wednesday for an endgame to resolve the country’s impending debt crisis. And as they did, the White House floated for the first time that Obama might be willing to go along with a short-term compromise and a House Republican leadership aide said the idea is emerging as a real possibility.
Less than a week ago, Obama was storming out of discussions with the House leaders going into his tough-man routine at the suggestion that they pass a short-term increase while working on a bigger deal for later.
Obama said he wanted congressional leaders to decide by Friday what approach to take on the debt limit. The Treasury Department has set an Aug. 2 deadline for lifting the ceiling, and ratings agencies are warning that they will downgrade U.S. credit if Congress doesn’t act — an action that could send markets tumbling.

“We are very far apart right now,” Cantor said he told the president. “I don’t know if we can get there.”

Cantor said he asked Obama if he would consider allowing two votes on the debt ceiling to give leaders more time to negotiate additional budget savings while avoiding a calamitous default.

“That’s when he got very agitated, seemingly, and said that he had sat there long enough, and that no other president — Ronald Reagan wouldn’t sit here like this — and that he’s reached the point where something’s got to give,” Cantor said, describing the president’s reaction.

“He said to me, ‘Eric, don’t call my bluff. I’m going to the American people with this,’” Cantor said.
And now that is exactly what they're discussing doing.

And it makes sense. The worst thing would be to cobble together some last-minute deal then force people to vote on it with deadlines of doom hanging over their heads. Get past the deadline and then buckle down and see if they can put together some real reforms and spending cuts.

If this is what ends up happening, look to see Obama's bluffs to be called as often as Bingo at a senior center.