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Obama's Empty Dance Floor

2:46 PM, Jul 25, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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President Obama, at a speech earlier today at the National Council of La Raza, indicated that he "need[s] a dance partner here -- and the floor is empty."

THE PRESIDENT: ... Now, I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own.  (Applause.)  And believe me, right now dealing with Congress –  

AUDIENCE:  Yes, you can!  Yes, you can!  Yes, you can!  Yes, you can!  Yes, you can! 

THE PRESIDENT:  Believe me -- believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting.  (Laughter.)  I promise you. Not just on immigration reform.  (Laughter.)  But that's not how -- that's not how our system works.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Change it!

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written.     So let’s be honest.  I need a dance partner here -- and the floor is empty.  (Laughter.) 

The president seems to be suggesting that Republicans don't want to come to the table to broker a deal on the debt ceiling and that he's all by himself--the sole honest broker in all of the negotiations. But the Republicans have actually passed a plan in Congress, and Obama refuses to walk away from the idea that tax hikes are what is now required to solve our economic woes. 

But maybe it is pretty lonely for the president on that dance floor, considering the Democrats don't seem willing to dance with him. The AP reports

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has been working on a fallback bill that officials said would cut $2.7 trillion in federal spending and raise the debt limit by $2.4 trillion in one step - enough borrowing authority to meet Obama's bottom-line demand.

In the process, though, another of the president's long-held conditions appeared to be in danger of rejection.

Neither Boehner's measure nor the one Reid was drafting included additional revenue, according to officials in both parties.

So Senate majority leader Harry Reid is brokering his own plan with Speaker of the House John Boehner. And where's the president? Delivering a speech to La Raza.

The other revealing thing President Obama said is this: "Believe me -- believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting." No doubt it is.

The statement is reminiscent of Obama's reaction to the Egyptian protests in Tahrir Square. “Mr. Obama has told people that it would be so much easier to be the president of China. As one official put it, ‘No one is scrutinizing Hu Jintao’s words in Tahrir Square,’” the New York Times reported in March.

Of course it's a hard job to be president of the United States. And of course it's hard to broker a deal with folks who don't believe in your political philosophy. But there isn't much gained by complaining about the system he ran to be the leader of. 

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