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For Obama, negotiating with Republicans is tough, almost as tough as math

For Obama, negotiating with Republicans is tough, almost as tough as math


So which will it be: catastrophe or no? And if it’s catastrophe, how soon will that happen?

People on the left are ramping up the fear, and people on the right trying to minimize it, both for obvious tactical purposes of their own. But failure to raise the debt ceiling is uncharted territory, and the best opinions are just guesses—although if it fails to be raised by the October 17 deadline, I guess we’ll find out whose prognostications were right and whose wrong.

Even that will not be completely clear, though, because predictions can function as a self-fulfilling prophecy, and fear is contagious.

One thing that is clear is that Paul Ryan is correct when he writes in the WSJ:

The president says he “will not negotiate” on the debt ceiling. He claims that such negotiations would be unprecedented. But many presidents have negotiated on the debt ceiling—including him.

Obama would like the public to think he can’t negotiate on this and that to do so would be unheard of. But what is actually going on here is that past presidents who have had to deal with divided government (which is what Obama faces; the House is in Republican hands right now) have always known that in such a situation they must negotiate.

Whichever party they have been affiliated with, and whether you think they were good presidents or bad ones, they have kept faith with the basic gentleman’s/woman’s agreement on which our government has always run, and that is that if the other side was duly elected to be in control of another branch of government, that group has some legitimate power and must be negotiated with.

Obama is different.

He had the brilliant idea that, although Republicans are in control of the House right now, they have no power unless they agree with him, and it is okay for him to defy them because it will have no repercussions on either him or his party (which is largely aligned with him). Therefore he can Just Say No to whatever Republican demands might be, and blame them for the failure to come to any sort of agreement.

And the reason he is able to get away with this is a simple one: he knows the media will not call him on it, but will instead support him and amplify his message.

It’s a toxic combination, and that’s what’s “unprecedented”—at least in this country.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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legacyrepublican | October 9, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Just remind everyone that just saying no is an improvement. After all, Obama thinks it works or else he wouldn’t be saying it either..

Not A Member of Any Organized Political | October 9, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Make certain they understand you mean 2nd grade Remedial Math!


One doesn’t “negotiate” after one has given up one’s leverage. Be that as it may, I’m not buying the “catastrophe” hype.

So let’s just do it to find out what’s in it.

When Tom Sowell talks I listen:
“Perhaps the biggest of the big lies is that the government will not be able to pay what it owes on the national debt, creating a danger of default. Tax money keeps coming into the treasury during the shutdown, and it vastly exceeds the interest that has to be paid on the national debt.

Even if the debt ceiling is not lifted, that only means that government is not allowed to run up new debt. But that does not mean that it is unable to pay the interest on existing debt.

None of this is rocket science. But unless the Republicans get their side of the story out — and articulation has never been their strong suit — the lies will win. More important, the whole country will lose.”

    janitor in reply to gasper. | October 9, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    And if we’re a slow pay, other governments are going to do what? Payback is at the end of our guns.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to gasper. | October 9, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    The ‘pubs will cave like the spineless, candyassed wooses they’ve always been and the lies will win out.

    Practically nobody knows or cares a thing about this.

    Estragon in reply to gasper. | October 10, 2013 at 2:23 am

    Correct, debt service amounts to interest payments since debt is typically rolled over into similar instruments. For instance, if a 5 year bond matures in December 2013, the interest will be paid and a new bond in the same face amount issued. It doesn’t matter whether the current holder renews it or someone else buys it, it’s the total outstanding that constitutes the “debt ceiling.”

    Interest payments this year are projected to total about 10% of the total federal revenues. There is no reason or likelihood of default at all.

    Neither is there any chance of us becoming a “slow pay” risk, since all the payments are on a date certain.

    Remember, we did raise the debt ceiling in 2011 and still were downgraded. The problem with our bond rating isn’t the debt ceiling, it’s the long term fiscal box we are in, our debt has shown “unsustainable growth.”

As they used to say in the 60’s: “Bring it all down, Man.”

Yes, to paraphrase Nancy Pelosi:

“We have to have a catastrophe, before we know what’s in the catastrophe.”

    Diggs in reply to Paul. | October 11, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Is that a paraphrase? I thought that’s what she actually said about Obamacare. Or maybe that’s what I heard in my head.

Read a definition of a psychopath today. Obama fit it perfectly.

Catastrophe? The situation is quite manageable in reality. The problem is that we have a community organizer with the power of the Presidency. Community organizers use whatever they can to create chaos, cause problems, and bring pain to their enemies. They keep ramping it up until they get their way, or someone stops them.
Sound familiar?

Obama is different.

Yes, indeed, he is. The mulatto likes to say he’s black, has the LSM in his pocket, and is a hard-core Communist.

The first means that when people don’t agree with him or express an opinion that is in any way different from what he’d like, he can accuse them of racism with the firm expectation that they will flinch and give him what he wants.

The second signifies that with the LSM carrying his water, Obama can propagandize the American public and nobody will ever learn the truth because, as the young journalism students have shown, digging for the truth is not a job Americans want to do.

The third indicates that Obama’s modus operandi of choice is to ram his wants down our throats. He doesn’t have to govern with our consent; that, he thinks, is for lesser men than he. Obama thinks he’s our better and our living ground god. We don’t have to agree to anything; we just have to do what Muslims do, submit to the will of Obama. We just have to lie there and take it, and think of him while singing the black “national” anthem.

>>”And the reason he is able to get away with this is a simple one: he knows the media will not call him on it, but will instead support him and amplify his message.”

Yes, and you just made the argument why Republicans need to see the media as comparable to the democrat party as an opposition force and to act accordingly.

The problem is, the republicans can’t even “act accordingly” with the democrat party, and live in morbid fear of the media.

Communists don’t negotiate with wimps — which is what we have in high office for the former, and in the GOP leadership for the latter.

It seems even people educated in the federally controlled public education system and informed by the partisan media are smart enough to realize that repeated statements of “I will not negotiate” don’t comport with claims the “GOP won’t compromise” or “I will negotiate with anyone.”

We need to squelch the talk of a “clean” CR or debt ceiling hike. It’s meaningless, only means a blank check for Obama.

    richard40 in reply to Estragon. | October 13, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Great point. To me labeling the Obama/Reid bill as the only “clean” one is just another form of propaganda, and it is so pervasive that even most conservative commentators and conservative politicians have not figured it out either. To me a real “clean” bill would be one that only includes spending items where all 3 actors, house, senate, and prez, agree on the spending level, and where the 3 don’t agree, the CR and debt ceiling bill should include the lowest bid on every line item from each actor. This would be the only true consensus emergency funding bill, and then leave any spending over that to follow on negotiations.
    Rand Paul was the only one I heard that pushed back against this propaganda, when a moderator asked him whether repubs would vote on a “clean bill” he replied the house already passed several “clean” bills, and Reid refuses to vote on them.

Someone please correct me if I’m wrong but…Isn’t the federal government required by law to pay “our” debts? So pay whats required by law and leave the rest unpaid; if there is a political consequence for either side then so be it!

southcentralpa | October 10, 2013 at 6:08 am

That’s why one of his many nicknames is #presidentstampyfoot

Freddie Sykes | October 10, 2013 at 8:13 am

Talking heads need to counter whenever someone equates not raising the debt ceiling with defaulting. Cutting up your credit cards is not the same as refusing to pay your balance.

Actually, the government collects about as much revenue as George W Bush spent in the final years of his presidency, a time when Pelosi and Reid ran against him for overspending.

    richard40 in reply to Freddie Sykes. | October 13, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    True, there is enough existing revenue to pay all the interest of the national debt 10 times, and even to pay that interest, plus critical things like SS checks and military pay, so default is not a question, unless Obama makes it one by purposely by not dedicating tax revenues first to pay interest on the debt, before he stops spending on other things. What lack of a debt ceiling would really produce is a forced immediate 40% cut in gov spending, basically a more drastic version of the present shutdown. That would not be good, since many of the cuts would happen in a disorderly manner, rather than an orderly one if there could be an agreement on spending cuts.


yesterday Obama tried to use an anolgy … he said what would happen if you went to your boss and said I won’t work without a raise …

of course it is Obama who is asking for a raise (Debt Ceiling) and he’s the one that says he won’t work (negotiate) if he doesn’t get one …

    richard40 in reply to dorsaighost. | October 13, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Good point, and it is even worse than that, Obama thinks he is the boss of the house of representatives, but I always thought that the house was a coequal branch of gov, and their only boss was their constituents.

One of the dem rep spinners on the shows today was saying “of course we are willing to negotiate, we just wont do it until the repubs agree to end the shutdown first”. Strange though, I always thought negotiations occurred before one side has totally capitulated and given up to the demands of the other side. It appears the dem idea of negotiate is you give us everything we want, and then after that we may be able to talk to you about some things.