After the Super Committee failed, President Obama placed Republicans on notice that they are going to do it his way and tax the rich, or face painful cuts to their beloved defense budget.
Here is the video from MSNBC:
Obama said, “Despite the broad agreement for such an approach, there are still too many Republicans in Congress who have refused to listen to the voices of reasons and compromise that are coming from outside of Washington. They continue to insist on protecting $100 billion worth of tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans at any cost…so at this point at least they simply will not budge from that negotiating position and so far that refusal continues to be the main stumbling block that has prevented Congress from reaching an agreement to further reduce our deficit.”
Later the president turned the tables and used the GOP’s own super committee against them. Obama delivered a message to those Republicans who are trying to wiggle out of the automatic cuts, “Already some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts. My message to them is simple. No, I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending. There will be no easy off ramps on this one. We need to keep the pressure up to compromise, not turn off the pressure. The only way these spending cuts will not take place is if Congress gets back to work, and agrees on a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion. That’s exactly what they need to do. That’s the job they promised to do, and they’ve still got a year to figure it out.”
Obama closed by telling the American people that he will not let the payroll tax cut expire, and he will not let taxes go up on the American people and businesses, so Congress had best get to work after Thanksgiving.
Obama has managed to take the failure of the Super Committee which was born out of the Republican Party’s creation of the fake debt ceiling crisis, and turn it into a weapon to use against congressional Republicans. The GOP had been assuming that Democrats would cave on their demands for both the protection of entitlement programs and raising taxes on the wealthy.
The Democrats didn’t cave, and now the Republicans have a big problem.
Republican hawks (especially in the Senate) have already started to squawk over the potential triggering of defense cuts. While Democrats are concerned about the automatic domestic cuts, they seem willing to hold their ground and battle to get the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share. Congressional Democrats are behind Obama, and he sent a very loud message today that he is not going to allow the GOP to wiggle off the hook.
President Obama used the phrase balanced approach numerous times in less than six minutes. His message to Republicans was that they have no hostage to ransom this time. He is willing to sit back and let the pressure on them build until they agree to raise taxes on the top 2%. He is targeting the $100 billion in Bush tax cuts for wealthiest Americans, but I suspect that the president wants more. Obama holds the veto pen, so small sacrificial amount of revenue is going to be enough.
Obama has always had his eyes on a bigger prize and longer term endgame. By not budging, congressional Republicans have played into his hands. Obama can win without doing anything. If Republicans want to prevent those defense cuts, they are going to have to break ranks and agree to raise taxes on the wealthy. Obama dictated the terms. He told the Republicans how it has to be, and now we’ll see how much pressure they can take before they crack.
Well played, President Obama. Well played.