The roller-coaster debate over raising the nation’s debt limit has forced the White House to explain away, brush aside or even ignore declarations by President Barack Obama and aides that no longer served much purpose in the unpredictable negotiations.
First, the White House wanted a congressional vote separated from spending cuts. Now the administration likes them linked.
Obama said he would reject any short-term deal to raise the borrowing limit. Now the White House says he could make an exception.
He pledged to meet with congressional leaders every day until a deal was reached. But the daily meetings stopped or at least disappeared from his schedule. He did summon lawmakers to the White House for talks Saturday after the top House Republican walked out Friday night.
The White House shifts have been less a matter of flip-flops and more a case of unforeseen twists forcing the administration to reposition as the Aug. 2 deadline to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its financial obligations draws closer.
Anticipation of a deal had built all week, then came crashing down Friday evening when House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, abruptly broke off the talks.
The White House’s willingness to change course underscores efforts to cast Obama as a reasonable and flexible compromiser in the face of Republican intransigence.
Perhaps the most notable shift has been on whether an increase should be linked to spending cuts.
The president’s opening position: a resounding no.
“We do not need to play chicken with our economy by linking the raising of the debt ceiling to anything,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said April 11.
But a few days later, Obama told The Associated Press in an interview that raising the debt ceiling wasn’t going to happen without some cuts.
Read the whole thing here. Of course, this is The Associated Press, so they are quick to note these aren’t “flip-flops”, but merely “shifts”. Still, that they felt it necessary to try to explain away Obama’s erratic behavior on the budget talks is pretty telling.