Tuesday night, the House of Representatives offered President Obama a deal he should not refuse. And yet, the president seems intent on doing just that.
For many months, President Obama and members of his administration have warned that failure to raise the debt limit will result in economic Armageddon. As we approach the president’s Aug. 2 deadline, their warnings have grown increasingly dire and their tones increasingly shrill.
In May, President Obama warned the nation, “If investors around the world thought that the full faith and credit of the United States was not being backed up, if they thought that we might renege on our IOUs, it could unravel the entire financial system . . . We could have a worse recession than we already had, a worse financial crisis than we already had.”
Last week, the president went so far as to threaten to withhold Social Security payments despite the fact that, under any circumstance, he will have the resources to make those payments. The president said: “I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on Aug, 3 if we haven’t resolved this issue, because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.”
If you accept the president’s premise (which I don’t), you have to wonder why he remains so stubbornly opposed to the Cut, Cap and Balance Act that passed the House of Representatives Tuesday night. In a moment of rare bipartisanship, five Democrats joined with 229 Republicans in passing legislation that will increase the debt limit by $2.4 trillion – the full amount that the president has asked for from day one.
Now the House vote came with one condition – that President Obama join Congress in putting our federal government on a path to a balanced budget. This is the single condition. To most, this is a perfectly reasonable condition. To the families I speak to in Pennsylvania who balance their checkbooks every month, this is more than reasonable. To the small business owners who struggle to make payroll and keep expenses down, the idea of balancing your budget is axiomatic.
So the question we need to ask President Obama is simple:
Mr. President, are you so passionately opposed to balancing the federal budget that you will reject the debt limit increase that you have said we desperately need? Mr. President, are you so opposed to solving our increasingly out-of-control debt problem that you are willing to plunge our country into “a worse financial crisis than we already had,” as you have put it?
Mr. President, we are waiting for your answer.