After House Republicans gave a little breathing room on the debt ceiling, offering a “clean” six-week increase with nothing in return, President Barack Obama rejected their plan.
Obama’s and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision to completely reject any offer of a compromise from House Republicans confirms what most conservatives already know: Obama will not negotiate on anything (he has said as much numerous times over the past couple of weeks) unless he faces consequences for failing to do so.
The whole point of this fight, as most congressional Republicans including House Speaker John Boehner have said, has been to expose how President Obama has never compromised on anything, always gets his way or the highway, and will not negotiate with Congress–though he will try to make deals with American rivals or enemies like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran’s new leaders. In the process, conservatives hoped that Republicans would use their negotiating power to shred Obamacare, or at least burn parts of it.
While Obama says he would not negotiate under the circumstances of a government shutdown, or under the threat of a potential default, he has shown time and again that he will never negotiate outside of those circumstances. So, what are congressional Republicans to do? As Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin laid out in an op-ed for Breitbart News on Thursday morning, the only way to know whether President Obama will ever negotiate with Congress on anything is if the GOP in Congress stands it ground.
Obama was slipping in the government shutdown battle. His approval rating had been plummeting, down to 37 percent. Obamacare was becoming ever more unpopular, as its early implementation continued failing. Conservatives were winning the shutdown fight much more so than anyone in the establishment expected; polling data showed voters were blaming President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats as much as they are Republicans for it.
What has happened, instead? Congressional Republicans, led by Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), have blinked. They attempted to decouple the debt ceiling battle from the CR battle against Obamacare, instead of using all the leverage they have available to keep their figurative boot on the president’s throat.
They offered a six-week “clean,” no-strings-attached debt ceiling increase. On paper, and in the policy wonk world of conservatism, that negotiating tactic might have seemed like a solid strategy. Sure, Republicans would have been able to reorganize the order in which they fight their fiscal fights over the last few months of 2013, keep Wall Street from having a meltdown aimed at them and likely splitting the party as the ongoing government shutdown continues and, most importantly, they would have been able to keep the focus on Obamacare. In the process, the government would remain shut down and the song and dance of the Obama administration’s shutdown theater would continue.
But here is the problem with that logic: we do not live in a perfect world. We live in a world where, as we have already established, President Obama does not negotiate. Obama is no Bill Clinton; he is not interested in a mere deal. President Obama and Harry Reid want to fry the Republican Party and literally took the government into a shutdown–threatening a default to do so. They now refuse to take up a House-passed bill that would provide paychecks to the 3 million government employees (many of whom live paycheck to paycheck in the Obama economy) who will not be getting paid on Monday, the first scheduled payday for government employees during shutdown.
Obama is a man whose administration put barricades up to keep World War II veterans out of their open-air memorial, preventing the brave men who put their lives on the line for America from entering a memorial to their military service perhaps for the first or last time in their lives, while allowing illegal immigrants to protest across the street on the supposedly-closed National Mall. To win against someone like this, you must fight fire with fire.
Obama actually has to believe House Republicans when they visit him to “talk.” Right now, Obama has no reason to believe Republicans will stand strong. Why should he? They have caved every other time they “negotiated” with him over the past three years since the Tea Party movement gave Boehner the speakership.
In response to Boehner’s Paul-Ryan-driven blink, what happened? That same man rejected the plan he had been saying he wanted for weeks, then added preconditions to raising the debt ceiling. Obama has stated for weeks he thinks a debt ceiling increase should not have any conditions; well, after Boehner blinked, Obama added a condition: open the government with the debt ceiling increase.
Martin sums it best in her piece on Breitbart News: “Leave it to establishment Republicans to sacrifice policy on the altar of tactics. As the partial government shutdown rolls into its second week and the so-called debt ceiling deadline draws nearer, we’re beginning to see cracks in a previously unified GOP front against the Affordable Care Act.”
Now Obama knows: Republicans are willing to cave.