President on Sidelines in Critical Battle Over Debt Ceiling

Jackie Calmes
The New York Times

…Having already deployed the heavy weapons from the presidential arsenal, including a national address on Monday night and a veto threat, Mr. Obama is in danger of seeming a spectator at one of the most critical moments of his presidency. Having been unable to get the grand bargain he wanted — a debt limit increase and up to $4 trillion in debt-reduction through spending cuts and taxes — Mr. Obama’s challenge now is to reassert himself in a way that produces the next-best outcome, or at least one that does no harm to his re-election hopes.

Behind the scenes, administration officials led by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the White House chief of staff, William M. Daley, and Mr. Obama’s budget director, Jacob J. Lew, are scrambling via telephone, e-mails and trips to the Capitol to try to shape the emerging legislation as Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats want. Their goal is a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt limit that would extend the government’s borrowing authority past the 2012 election campaign, not the shorter increase the Republicans now want, and also provide a similar amount in deficit reduction over the decade…

…“I don’t think a president is ever completely helpless, but having said that, my interpretation of the nationally televised address that he gave was that he had no arrows left in his quiver,” said Bill Galston, a former Clinton administration official and now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a research organization. “If he’d had another card to play, that was surely the time to play it. He’s the ultimate decider but, on the other hand, I think his capacity to shape what gets to his desk has been substantially reduced” as Republicans stand their ground, Mr. Galston said…

…“I’m not saying the president has an easy task ahead of him and he can do it at the snap of his fingers,” Mr. [Vin] Weber added, in reference to Congressional Republicans’ hard line. “I’m just saying in the end the failure to solve this problem is going to weigh more heavily on him than on anybody in Congress.”…

Read the entire article at The New York Times.

H/T The Astute Bloggers

Related: At Instapundit, ADVICE TO OBAMA: Want 1950s Taxes? Accept 1950s Spending.

Thomas Sowell: Obama’s “Balanced” Approach, at Weasel Zippers.

Update: Investor’s Business Daily says shifting blame is the game Obama is playing. More at

Thomas Sowell offers his thoughts about the Boehner Bill.

Comments are closed.