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President Obama: “The American People are Fed Up”

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President Barack Obama addressed the country during an extraordinary press conference late this afternoon about the status of the debt ceiling after House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) walked away from talks. Summoning the leadership of the House and Senate to his office at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow for answers about how we will avoid default, the president spoke passionately, with fire, frustration, and, at times, anger at the intransigence of the Republicans.

He said that he had offered Boehner more than $1 trillion in discretionary cuts, $650 billion in entitlements while preserving the integrity of the “big three” of social security, Medicare and Medicaid. In addition, the president sought revenues less than the Senate “Gang of Six” plan, but included $1.2 trillion in additional revenues without hiking tax rates by eliminating loopholes, some deductions, and reforming the tax structure.

The president called the offer an “extraordinarily balanced deal” while being willing to take a lot of heat from [his] party.” He emphasized that despite the unpopularity of the plan among his own party, Democratic leaders have stepped up, willing to swallow this pill.

“It is hard to understand” why Speaker Boehner was willing to walk away, Obama commented, clearly frustrated with intransigent Republicans, particularly with the Tea Party contingent (though he did not name them specifically).

The Republicans earlier this week passed a “cap, cut and balance” plan which would mean a bigger burden on seniors, education, research, and on services going to middle America while asking nothing of corporations and the rich. If you have no revenues, the whole thing gets tilted on the backs of the poor. The Senate rejected the plan earlier today.

President Barack ObamaPresident Obama stated flatly that he refuses to “kick the can” down the road for several months. They must extend the debt celling beyond the 2012 election, and cannot do this five, six or eight months from now. “If we can’t come up with a serious plan for reduction, then the probabilities for downgrading are increased, causing an additional cloud, making it more difficult for business,” he argued.

Insisting on a balanced package, Obama noted that Americans are “fed up” with inability of politicians to “take action.” In particular, said the president emphatically, Republicans must answer whether they “can say yes to anything.”

Knowing that many Republicans are locked into Grover Norquist’s “no taxes” pledge, the president asked on behalf of the nation, “What can you say yes to?” If the only answer, he continued, is in massive cuts to entitlements and domestic spending with no other cuts—what they’ve already voted on—“if that’s the only answer,” he reiterated, “it will be pretty difficult to know where to go with this.”

Obama insisted that lawmakers “have to put aside talk radio and activists.” He put the blame squarely on Republicans, noting that while House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) did not like the package he put forward, they understand the importance of getting this done now, he maintained, and “because it’s important.” The Republicans, he insisted, have refused to entertain anything else.

President Obama stated that at a minimum, lawmakers must raise the debt ceiling. Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have worked out an agreement that would place all responsibility for increasing the debt limit on the president, something Obama was willing to accept. “Happy to do it,” he said. But, he refuses to “continue to play games for a few months and do it again” should Congress propose a shorter-term debt ceiling increase.

In the end, Obama stressed that he was confident that something would be arranged. Because, he said, “I cannot believe that Congress would be that irresponsible that it would give a self-inflicted wound to the economy.” However, he also said that he believed at this point, “there is no capacity for them to say yes,” referring to Republicans upon whom he placed the blame for the stalemate in negotiations.

“This is not the usual food fight. A lot of Democrats stepped up to do unpopular things among Democrats,” he argued. “The American people are fed up with politics. If you want to be a leader, you have to lead.”

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • I’m just weary of this ludicrous battle. The latest chapter may simply be more theater, with a solution around the corner. But it’s just really disheartening that our government is so dysfunctional. I blame Boehner’s lack of cojones. But there may be other reasons as well.

  • Clavos

    Here’s why Obama’s latest speech, like his earlier ones regarding the debt and its “ceiling,” is so much hot air and phony as a nine dollar bill.

  • Clavos, if you [or George Will] ever say anything worthwhile or meaningful about the president, I promise you we’ll let you know. Don’t hold your breath, however. You haven’t come close yet.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    I used to like George Will – I really did. For a lot of years I used to look forward to reading his columns. That was before he started going off on the deep end like the time he claimed that building a network of high-speed rail was actually a deliberate effort to bring socialism to America. Let’s look at one of the paragraphs in the article you referenced:

    Five months ago he submitted a budget that would have accelerated indebtedness and that the Democrat-controlled Senate rejected in May, 97-0. Just three months ago he was demanding a “clean” increase in the debt ceiling, containing nothing to slow the spending carousel. Now he calls for “the largest possible” debt-reduction deal. Today, he says “if you look at the numbers, then Medicare … will run out of money and we will not be able to sustain that program no matter how much taxes go up.” Last year he advertised ObamaCare as a sufficient reform of health care.

    1 – I’d like to hear more about this budget Obama allegedly submitted

    2 – He wanted a clean increase in the debt ceiling, true – just like every other debt ceiling increase that presidents have signed for the past thirty years. But since Obama wanted it, well, THAT means it was all part of a sinister socialist plan!

    3 – Now he calls for the ‘largest possible plan’. True…because the Republicans flatly refused to give him a clean bill. He then reasoned quite logically that if we’re going to reduce the debt, then we should go for it whole-hog rather than just taking half steps. Of course the idea that maybe, just maybe we should cut taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil and other forms of corporate welfare was absolutely unacceptable to the Republicans.

    4 – “Medicare…will run out of money”. This would be true if we were to (1) continue to prevent Medicare from negotiating for lower prices for drugs, (2) continue to let Medicare “Advantage” act as a NON-value-added middleman while they add tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to their pockets, and (3) continue to NOT enforce Medicare fraud laws. The Obama administration, btw, is enforcing those fraud laws significantly more than did the presidents before him.

    4 – “Obamacare” was NOT advertised as a “sufficient reform of Medicare”. Of course that’s not what George Will said…but that’s clearly the context. He put the apple next to the orange and effectively said that Obama’s solving the orange by adding the apple to it.

    This is frankly dishonest journalism, and these are among the reasons why I no longer trust George Will. He’s scary smart and no mistake – but he’s not an honest journalist. Instead, he’s angling his ‘facts’ in ways to make them mean something they never meant.

    I recommend that you apply your cynicism to George Will every bit as strongly as you do to any liberal pundit.

  • There are parts of George Will’s piece that ring true. Not the Reagan reference, to be sure. And the comparison to the “new Gorbachev” does discredit to Gorbachev and reveals George Will’s (Reagan) bias.

  • The only thing he got right is that the American people are fed up. What he doesn’t understand is that they are fed up with the entire process and his role in it as much as or more than that of the Republicans. And if they are mad at Republicans it is for compromising with Obama and not standing firm on debt as they promised.


  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    I notice you never did mention anything to my several posts lately where I’ve noted that the American people have had a lower tax burden (total taxes as a percentage of total income) in the past two years than at any time since the Truman administration. So why should the Republicans be so offended at raising taxes up to the levels they were under Bush, Bush, or Reagan?

  • Joe Stentorian

    I am very fed up. I am fed up with Obama’s lavish spending.

  • Gee Joe, didn’t hear any outcries about George’s “lavish spending.” I guess that was okay, though, because it was “responsible” Republican spending – like for the Iraq war or the tax reductions for the rich or as W refered to them – “his base.” (And I was going to sit here and count all the jobs that came out of those tax cuts, but found I was going to have to use both hands. I guess I could type with my nose.)

    The supposed “lavish spending” by Obama has all been in an effort to fix Republican fuck ups.

    And of course Dave is wrong about:
    “What he doesn’t understand is that they are fed up with the entire process and his role in it as much as or more than that of the Republicans.” Recent polls on that very issue indicate that the American public is indeed fed up, but that a significant majority blame the Reps for their intransigence regarding revenues. Reps are no longer able or willing to do their jobs. They sold their souls to Grover Norquist and anyone else who has come calling in the halls of Congress waving some idiot pledge or other.

    As Glenn aptly notes, we are NOT taxed nearly as much as in the past and the Reps unseemly defense of their rich supporters at the expense of virtually everyone else is at best misdirected.

    And the Reps are – like it or not – stuck with the social cons. They took great pains to invite them to the party (pun intended,) back during the 2000 Bush election as it was the only means they had to get their boy elected. The same was true in 2004.

    But now the tea baggers have unveiled their true colors which reveal that they are less concerned with spending, taxes and economics in general, and far more zeroed in on abortion, gay marriage and the like. The poor neo-con and moderate Reps can’t stand em, but can’t win without em. So, all of you hie thee hither to a prayer meetin!


  • Baronius

    Gee Joe, didn’t hear any outcries about George’s “lavish spending.”

    Baritone, you must have started at BC in 2009.

    And can someone explain to me why kicking it down the road a few months is politics, but kicking it down the road 18 months is “leadership”?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    When was the last time the Republicans submitted a jobs bill?

  • Glenn – The answer to your question of course is: They haven’t. Not one. Nada!

    Bar – Virtually everybody laid down during the Bush years. There was barely a whimper about spending. Only after Bush left office did all the brave fiscal conservatives stand up to voice their displeasure with the Bush era spending.

    It’s not just a question of kicking the debt ceiling issue down the road, it is all the crap that has been infused around it. Do we really want to revisit all this stupidity in 3 or 4 months? Nevertheless, the debt ceiling will have to be addressed again at some point. Pushing it forward as far as possible – ideally beyond the 2012 election cycle – only makes sense. I’d bet you money (if I actually had any) that no one in Congress on either side of the aisle wants this issue popping up again during the coming campaign season.

    So yes, I’d say pusing for 18 months or more to revisit the debt ceiling does in fact demonstrate leadership rather than just politics. Of course, the smart thing would be to separate it from everything else, just as it’s been done for years, but no.


  • Baronius

    This is the kind of partisanship that I hate.

    When President Obama pushed for a health care bill, some Republicans were complaining that the #1 priority should be jobs. That was silly because Obama believed that a health care bill would help the economy, so health care reform was a jobs bill in his eyes. Ditto Republicans for trying to pass a deficit-reduction package. They believe that a sounder budget will help the economy, so this current package is a jobs bill in their eyes.

    An inability to understand the opposition doesn’t make either side look good.

  • It has been pretty much across the board with economists and pundits predicting that making huge cuts in the budget will have a negative effect on the economy and, especially, employment. First, it would likely put thousands of government workers out of a job, to which most cons say “great!” However, it should be pointed out that those people are citizens (oh yeah, I guess they are!,) and they would add significantly to the lists of unemployed, and would be competing with other out of work folks for jobs.

    Secondly, the discontinuing or significant curtailing of government programs would likely have a ripple effect throughout the economy putting many more people out of work.

    So, tell us Bar, where are the jobs? How will the economy manage to recover from such a hit? How long might it take to absorb all those people into the job market? I wonder if all those “job creators” out there will actually be spreading their largesse in the form of new jobs? If history tells us anything, the answer is not many.

    In the eight Bush years a net of only 1.1 million jobs were created out of his famous tax cuts for the rich. Clinton created over 20 million jobs during his tenure. Twenty to one! Hell, even everybody’s favorite punching bag, Jimmy Carter managed to create 10 million jobs during his 4 years.

    Obama is in negative territory at -1.8%. Not good by any standard. But the lion’s share of those losses happened during his firt year or so in office when the stock market went berzerk and the housing crisis was at its nadir.

    There were several consecutive months over the past 18 or so that showed positive job growth. Only recently did those numbers begin a reversal in that trend. July’s #s are as yet unreleased.

    But, that’s not really the issue is it? The issue is the Rep claim that tax cuts create jobs. There is absolutely no proof of that, and, as noted, there is much more extant data which proves otherwise.

    So, it’s not surprising that Dems fail to see how the Rep’s budget reduction efforts can have any positive effect on the economy in either the short or long term.

    BTW – Obama’s health care package does have good potential for job creation over the long run. It may not have a chance to do so, though owing to efforts by Reps to rip it apart and/or defund much of it. Not to mention that it has now become a bargaining chip in the ongoing budget negotiations.

    Also, who made Grover Norquist king? What business do members of Congress have in pledging allegiance to anything but the Constitution and to their constituents?

  • Baronius

    Baritone – A lot depends on what you’re cutting. If you cut government jobs, it directly affects employment. If you cut grant money, the employment impact is indirect. Likewise with changes in the personal income tax code. Cuts in entitlement programs have an indirect effect on employment, but a direct effect on personal income. (Considering we’re getting lap dances with a stolen credit card, eventually we’re going to have to pay up somewhere, and it won’t be pretty. But you can’t blame the strippers. It’s our fault.) This is why we need to talk about specifics.

    It is good news that the US handled the late-1940’s drawdown and the 1990’s “peace dividend” with economic growth. Both periods saw substantial cuts in government payrolls (military pay comes out of the same treasury).

    I also think you need to stop listening to the same pundits and economists. There are a lot of different predictions out there. Do me a favor and read this article by economist Greg Mankiw to the point I’m making.

  • Baronius

    I also have to mention Mo Brooks, over whom I’ve been fawning lately.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Yes, they saw lots of drawdowns in the late forties…and we had high unemployment with the drawdown of the military, and we had a higher national debt (compared to GDP) than we do now.

    So what did Truman do? Jacked up the top marginal tax rate to 90%, and the CEO’s either had to pay…or they had to reinvest their income in their companies and take a deduction. They did the latter…and America boomed.

    That’s how we nearly paid off the entire national debt in a decade. That’s the lesson of history that we need to remember. That’s the lesson of history that is strictly against conservative dogma.

  • Baronius

    Dave has already answered that argument by pointing out how high the threshold was for the upper limit.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Um, Baronius –

    Where did he “point that out”?

  • Baronius

    Glenn, I remember you two having this exchange.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Well, Baronius, my memory quite famously sucks…and I’m not being sarcastic. Please refresh my memory.

  • Whether cuts eliminate jobs directly or indirectly seems to me, immaterial. Reps have made no secret regarding their intention to gut the healthcare bill and medicare in particular. Their intent to do away with what they pejoratively refer to as “entitlements” is at the forefront of their efforts. Not only will jobs be lost, but people in need will be made even moreso, all in the effort to enhance the finances of those who are already well off.

    And again, there is no evidence that any significant #s of jobs will be forthcoming through tax breaks for them.


  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    Here’s a better explanation of what the problem really is, and how the Republicans are going to make it worse if they get their way.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And Baronius –

    I’ve brought up to Dave several times the fact that we’re paying less in taxes (as a percentage of our income) than we have in the past 50 years…and he has yet to address it. Furthermore, he’s tried several times to use the old claim that we’ve got the 2nd-highest corporate tax in the world…and when I point out that he’s giving the NOMINAL rate but not the EFFECTIVE rate, he stays completely silent.

    He is perpetuating the Republican Big Lies about taxes…and when someone tries to point out that he is quite clearly wrong, he ignores what they say and continues on as if he heard nothing whatsoever.

    Why is that, Baronius? Why is it that he – and you, for that matter – cannot address the fact that our tax burden as a percentage of our income in the past two years is less than it has been since Truman was president? Why is it that neither of you address the fact that the Republican meme about the oh-so-high corporate tax rate, when all the deductions and subsidies and exemptions and other breaks are factored in, becomes the EXACT opposite of what the Republicans claim it is?

    Why won’t Dave answer? In all honesty, I’m sure that he can, that he can spin things just far enough to where he can still believe what he’s being fed. But are you still determined to continue to believe what the Republicans (and Fox News) continue to tell you about taxes?

  • zingzing

    as long as we’re going over things that bc right wingers have yet to explain, i’d like to know the following:

    –how clavos feels about agw-doubting scientists getting their funding from big oil and coal companies

    –the history according to cannonshop of how the gop stood up against the dems, but ultimately failed to stop the passage of the patriot act in 2002 and 2006.


  • Clavos

    –how clavos feels about agw-doubting scientists getting their funding from big oil and coal companies

    All scientists get their funding from somewhere; I don’t care if some of the antis are getting their funding from oil and coal; I still agree with them (and with the oil and coal companies if they are anti AGW).

    Drill, baby, drill — ANWR — anywhere; on the lawn of the WH if there’s oil there — in my backyard – PLease drill in my yard. As soon as you pay me, I’ll move.

  • zingzing

    heh. well. next time you want to say scientists who claim agw is a reality just want the funding, remember that scientists who claim agw isn’t a reality want the same. and then do the math. the basis of your conspiracy theory is bunk. you just believe what the politicians want you to believe. (on the other side we have politics and science! both!)

    and, really, why do you agree with them? you don’t have to answer that, as you have before… it’s all politics to you. it’s got nothing to do with science.

    but thanks for answering, no matter how snarky it was. one off the checklist.

    cannonshop, you’re next. this one i really want to hear.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    How about the climatologists of the U.S. government who tried to publish time and again their findings during the Bush administration, only to find their work often censored (61% of them reported censoring) and sometimes their results changed outright by Bush appointees.

    Where was their funding from? The government. And the government was AGAINST the results of the research they were trying to publish. Did that change their minds? No. They did the only thing they could do – keep working and trying to publish the results of their research.

    That in and of itself should disprove your claim about funding.

    Clavos, look at yourself. If you were doing work that you truly felt was important to the world, to the human race as a whole, and people were threatening to cut your funding if you didn’t say what they wanted you to say, even though you knew that what they wanted you to say was false, would you lie for them just to keep your funding?

    Would you? I don’t think you would. And for that reason, you should not assume that the climatologists would, either.

  • Cannonshop

    #28 Censored by WHOM, Glenn, unless you’re going to come on record as saying that Scientific Journals are under the purview and control of the Executive Branch of the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

    Fold up the tinfoil hat, it doesn’t look good on you.

  • Baronius

    Glenn, I’ve only replied to you about three things recently. You cited a false statistic about deficits in the Reagan years. I found the real numbers and laid them out for you, with a link. You implied an article from Redstate said that Republicans wanted the economy to tank for their own political success. I pointed out that the article said the opposite on both points, with actual quotes. You say that Truman raised the tax rates. I noted that Dave has argued that the highest rates were applied to so few earners as to be unimportant. I can’t cite a reference to that one, but you can do the leg work on it yourself.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop –

    Read here and here.

    The second reference – a historical timeline of Bush administration policies on science and the environment – includes quite a few eye-opening statements like this one from February 18, 2004:

    Sixty-two leading scientists, including Nobel Prize laureates, university chairs and presidents, and former federal agency directors, sign a joint statement protesting the Bush administration’s “unprecedented” politicization of science (see January 2004 and June 1, 2005). Over 11,000 scientists will add their names to the statement, disseminated by the Union of Concerned Scientists, in the coming years. “When scientific knowledge has been found to be in conflict with its political goals, the administration has often manipulated the process through which science enters into its decisions,” the scientists write. “This has been done by placing people who are professionally unqualified or who have clear conflicts of interest in official posts and on scientific advisory committees; by disbanding existing advisory committees; by censoring and suppressing reports by the government’s own scientists; and by simply not seeking independent scientific advice. Other administrations have, on occasion, engaged in such practices, but not so systematically nor on so wide a front. Furthermore, in advocating policies that are not scientifically sound, the administration has sometimes misrepresented scientific knowledge and misled the public about the implications of its policies.”

    Okay? Just do a simple Google search and you’ll find LOTS of examples where the Bush administration censored scientists – and not only climatologists, but also scientists in the EPA, NOAA, NASA, USGS, and others. Surprised that you haven’t heard this before? Think about it, friend – do you really think that the news sources that you normally use would publish news showing that the Bush administration engaged in such wide-ranging attempts to manipulate the results of scientific research?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    You cited a false statistic about deficits in the Reagan years. I found the real numbers and laid them out for you, with a link.

    I thanked you, didn’t I? And then I went on to point out how this one false statistic did NOT damage my overall point because the Republican memes on income taxes and corporate taxes were both completely false. One wrong statistic does not negate an entire point if the other statistics are strong enough to stand on their own…and they are.

    In other words, if you want to prove me wrong, then you’ve got to prove that USA Today was wrong when they showed last year that we’ve got a lower tax burden now than we’ve had since Truman.

    You implied an article from Redstate said that Republicans wanted the economy to tank for their own political success. I pointed out that the article said the opposite on both points, with actual quotes.

    Baronius, I suggest you go back and READ the article again. Erickson is telling the Republicans to “hold the line”, and that “Should the United States lose its bond rating, it will be called the “Obama Depression”.” By saying this, he is strongly implying that there IS a possibility even to him that America would lose its bond rating, and that we would have a depression as a result…and that the Republicans wouldn’t get blamed for it but Obama would.

    He goes on to claim in so many words that he doesn’t think this will happen…but it is enough that he implied that it MIGHT. That’s called gambling with America’s economy, Baronius – and the whole world’s economy would suffer badly if he (and the Republicans) was wrong.

    You say that Truman raised the tax rates. I noted that Dave has argued that the highest rates were applied to so few earners as to be unimportant. I can’t cite a reference to that one, but you can do the leg work on it yourself.

    Again, I don’t see or remember any such argument by Dave…but I would simply point you back to the USA Today article I’ve referenced so many times where it shows that our current income tax revenue – as a percentage of total income – is just over 24 percent LOWER than it has averaged for the past half century.

    If Dave claimed that the top marginal tax rate only applied to very few (I remember reading somewhere that in today’s dollars the 90% rate would have applied to those making $2M/year or more), then why do we all have a lower overall tax burden under Obama than we have had before in our lifetimes?

    The two observations are related, Baronius – think it through.

  • Here’s a fun graph from Ezra Klein, one of the best journalist/blogger/commentators around, guaranteed to annoy your conservative friends, if in fact you have any. It clearly illustrates how much of the [continuing and growing] debt comes from Bush policies [over $5 trillion] and how much from Obama policies[less than $1.5 trillion].

    Klein is certainly a liberal, but his columns never come across shrilly partisan, and they are full of cogent arguments and relevant facts and figures. My kinda guy.

  • Clavos

    his columns never come across shrilly partisan

    That, M’sieu is in the eye of the beholder; I find him to be not only doggedly partisan, but often more than a little shrill.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    I’d really like for you to address the following question:

    Clavos, look at yourself. If you were doing work that you truly felt was important to the world, to the human race as a whole, and people were threatening to cut your funding if you didn’t say what they wanted you to say, even though you knew that what they wanted you to say was false, would you lie for them just to keep your funding?

    Would you? I don’t think you would. And for that reason, you should not assume that the climatologists would, either.

    I don’t think you’ll address it. I think you’ll ignore it. But I hope you do address it.

  • Re: Ezra Klein — smug possibly, which can come from usually being the smartest guy in the room. But he’s a numbers nerd/policy wonk, and shrillness just doesn’t match that persona. Another way of putting it is that he doesn’t communicate in the usual talking points, but instead in well-sourced data.