By John Feehery - 07/25/11 10:57 PM EDT
They used to call him “No Drama” Obama, but now “Drama” has supplanted Hussein as the president’s middle name.
Instead of speechwriters, they now hire people to write screenplays at this White House. This gang must have overdosed on old episodes of “The West Wing” when they were growing up. I wonder if they have Aaron Sorkin on contract.
The president earlier tried to scare people into believing that unless the Republicans somehow buckled on raising taxes, Social Security checks wouldn’t go out.
Obama has consistently tried to make Eric CantorEric CantorJuan Williams: The capitulation of Paul Ryan The Trail 2016: The Big One Conservative sworn in to replace Boehner MORE the political version of Snidely Whiplash while portraying himself as Dudley Do-Right. I guess Nell Fenwick is being played by the American people.
The president’s former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, famously said that you should never let a good crisis go to waste. Obama apparently wants to continue to manufacture crises to increase his leverage.
We face a debt crisis largely of Obama’s making.
Spending as a percentage of GDP now stands at a startling 25 percent, thanks to Obama’s failed stimulus boondoggle, his healthcare law and just run-of-the-mill spending by Democratic appropriators.
Taxes as a percentage of GDP now stand at historic low of 14.4 percent, thanks to a still-sluggish economy made worse by the president signing an extension of the Bush tax cuts. Obama can try to blame Republicans for these tax cuts, but when he had overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate, he chose to keep those tax cuts in place.
Solving this debt crisis requires a math degree, not a degree in drama.
It is largely a function of vote-counting (218 in the House, 60 in the Senate) and budget number-crunching (anywhere from $1 trillion to $4 trillion in savings).
But instead of looking coldly at the votes and cutting a deal that would pass both chambers, Mr. No-Drama has tried to increase the drama, by putting unnecessary pressure on House Republicans, trying to drive a wedge between John BoehnerJohn BoehnerCameras go dark during House Democrats' sit-in Rubio flies with Obama on Air Force One to Orlando Juan Williams: The capitulation of Paul Ryan MORE and Eric Cantor and having dramatic weekend meetings well before the deadline hits.
As a result, the airwaves are full of dire warnings about our imminent default. Commentators breathlessly report that a financial Armageddon is coming, even though few in the financial world seriously believe that America won’t pay its debts.
The debt limit has been routinely increased since the very beginning of our republic. Every congressional leader has stated with great confidence that we will not default on our debt payments. Sure, some folks on the extreme left and the extreme right have made dire predictions and strong statements in opposition to voting to extend the limit, but guess what, that always happens.
There doesn’t need to be this much drama, a conclusion reached by Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerCameras go dark during House Democrats' sit-in Rubio flies with Obama on Air Force One to Orlando Juan Williams: The capitulation of Paul Ryan MORE (R-Ohio) over the weekend.
Why negotiate with high-drama Obama when you can negotiate with anti-drama Harry ReidHarry ReidSay NO to PROMESA, say NO to Washington overreach Overnight Finance: Wall Street awaits Brexit result | Clinton touts biz support | New threat to Puerto Rico bill? | Dodd, Frank hit back McConnell quashes Senate effort on guns MORE?
Reid might say some silly things on occasion, but his complete lack of charisma makes the debt-limit storyline far less compelling. Reid, who has to protect the interests of more than a dozen vulnerable colleagues, is much more likely to agree with Boehner on the whole issue of tax increases, and far less likely to want to push the crisis to the breaking point.
Here is my prediction: The debt limit will be extended, the republic will be saved and life will continue on. Sorry if I spoiled the ending for you.
Feehery is president of Quinn Gillespie Communications and spent 15 years working in the House Republican leadership. He is a contributor to The Hill’s Pundits Blog and blogs at thefeeherytheory.com.