Former President Bill Clinton is pushing back, and pushing back hard against the Republican attempts to blame President Obama and the Democrats for a government shutdown.
CLINTON: If I were the president, I wouldn’t negotiate over these draconian cuts that are going to take food off the table of low-income working people, while they leave all the agricultural subsidies in for high-income farmers and everything else. I just think it’s — it’s chilling to me. The entitlement spending is going down as the unemployment rate drops and the economy grows. Half of the deficit has already disappeared. The rest of it, well this is just, it seems almost spiteful.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But doesn’t it all come undone if there is a default? I mean all this saying you’re not going to negotiate, you’re betting on the other side caving.
CLINTON: That’s right. This is the House Republicans and the tea party people saying we don’t want to negotiate with the Democrats. We want to dictate over the Senate, over the House Democrats, over the Speaker of the House of our own party, and over the president. We insist on dictating the course of the country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you’re saying that you just have to stand up to that, no matter what the consequences?
CLINTON: I think you do, because they haven’t asked for negotiations.
Former President Clinton made two points that the media is overlooking. The Republicans aren’t negotiating. They issued a series of public demands. Public ultimatums and demands are not the characteristics of a serious negotiation. The second point is critical. While Republicans have been complaining in the media that the president won’t negotiate with them, they haven’t asked for any negotiations. In fact, they aren’t speaking to the White House at all.
The idea that Obama is to blame for something that is the constitutional responsibility of the House Republicans would be laughable if it didn’t demonstrate an ignorance on the part of both the media and the public that the Republicans are happily exploiting. The reality is that Democrats have to stand up to the tea party extremists in the House and Senate. One compromise will only lead to more demands. Their crisis inducing behavior isn’t going to stop.
It is insane to assume that the group steering the House Republican caucus is composed of reasonable people who will sit down and fairly negotiate solutions to our problems. Instead of flexibility and reason, the Democrats are being opposed by inflexible ideologues. Ideologues don’t compromise. House Republicans don’t want to negotiate. They are trying to conqueror.
This is why all Democrats must stand united, and say no. Appeasement will only embolden those who won’t stop until they get 100% of what they are demanding. The House Republicans will only back down when they are defeated. Toughness and resolve will triumph over extremism. Obama is doing the right thing, and Democrats need to show their support.