Throughout his time as president, Barack Obama has often been the subject of criticism from both sides of the political spectrum for not engaging enough with Congress, Republicans in particular, to solve problems and work through legislative issues. However, during a press gaggle today aboard Air Force One, deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said that the "president has spent an inordinate amount of time" negotiating with Congress. Earnest's remarks came in response to a reporter's question [emphasis added]:
Q The Republicans control the House of Representatives. Why is the President giving speeches criticizing the Republicans, instead of sitting down with them and trying to compromise on achieving a budget deal that will get him at least some of what he wants?
MR. EARNEST: Well, I think there are a number of reasons for that. The President has spent an inordinate amount of time, some might even say, negotiating with Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill to try to find some consensus, to try to find some common ground about what should be some pretty basic economic principles about supporting the middle class. That is the President’s top priority. That is the reason that he ran for President in the first place. It has been at the top of his agenda throughout his first term.
Critics of the president might also take issue with Earnest's characterization of the timing of events during the president's first term, referring later in the gaggle to "our nascent economic recovery", while talking about Obamacare as a "political [battle] waged and won many years ago."
A day after complaining that the "fiscal cliff" negotiations are "getting boring," Nancy Pelosi was spotted yesterday afternoon skipping town.
She was comfortably situated in first class on United Airlines flight 1460, which was scheduled to leave Dulles Airport at 2:53 p.m. and arrive in San Francisco 5:57 p.m. A list on United's website of those who were on the upgrade standby list reveals that PEL, N. (presumably, Nancy Pelosi) was upgraded to seat 4F, a window seat in first class.
Senator Jeff Sessions continues to argue against the secrecy of the ongoing "fiscal cliff" negotiations with an op-ed this morning in today's Wall Street Journal. Sessions argues that the secrecy is inherently anti-Democratic, and similar to the "Russian Duma, where officials meet behind closed doors, put out the word, and the overwhelming votes materialize."
As the United States and other members of the P5+1 commence negotiations with Iran, it is worth recalling the classic analysis of Iran’s negotiating style sent in from the U.S. embassy in Tehran on August 13, 1979. The author of the cable, political counselor Victor Tomseth, and the man who authorized it, charge d’affaires Bruce Laingen, became hostages when the embassy was seized on November 4, 1979.
In today’s Wall Street Journal, Steve Hayes notes what will be missing in this weekend’s attempted negotiations with Iran: a serious discussion of Iran’s broad sponsorship of terrorism, particularly against American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The debt ceiling deal will pass the Senate early this afternoon. No suspense there. But the vote will be worth watching for another reason: Three Republican Senate sources tell TWS that senators who vote against the deal will be ineligible to serve on the so-called “supercommittee” for deficit reduction that the legislation creates.
For House speaker John Boehner, Tea Party Republicans weren’t the problem as he sought support for a package of spending cuts attached to an increase in the debt limit. The biggest impediment to a House majority was Republicans fearful a primary opponent would use a vote to boost the debt limit against them.
As Bill Kristol writes, the House Republicans have been the only responsible players in the debt-ceiling debate, having passed actual legislation in the light of day, to increase the debt limit. Now, with all due respect, it’s time for House leaders to stay away from the White House.
One of the least covered aspects of the debt limit negotiations has been defense spending. Obama administration officials and congressional Democrats have indicated that the White House would like to include significant defense cuts as part of an eventual deal, even beyond the $400 billion in cuts to security spending over the next twelve years that the president announced in April.
The debt ceiling fight has now reached a point typical of many dramas of this kind, when participants and commentators alike start to lose sight of the forest for the trees. That's inevitable. Trees are what Congress and pundits do for a living, and in any case which trees are left standing just where is not unimportant. So lots of underpaid congressional staffers will be spending long nights working on tree-trimming, tree-maintenance and even tree-beautification, and lots of underpaid journalists will be covering their efforts.
There are many reasons to be skeptical that any likely budget deal would be worth supporting. And it’s long past time for Republicans to be planning strategically, and laying the groundwork legislatively and politically, for an outcome of no deal (or possibly a mini-deal that doesn’t sacrifice conservative principles).