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July 26, 2011

Dueling Demagogues: Obama vs. Chaffetz & Jordan

Last night the President gave a deeply disingenuous speech, filed with his tired analogies, overused strawmen, and violent rhetoric (GOP is "taking captives," "collateral damage" in GOP's "political warfare"). And it's not like we could expect anything else out of him. What surprised me, though, is just how out of touch he was.

In his speech, the President repeated his demand that a tax hike be part of the debt ceiling deal. New taxes are not a feature of any of the current proposals, not even the Democrats'. Republicans have completely won that point. The last plan to include new taxes was the Gang of Six proposal (thanks Dr. Coburn!) and that plan didn't even pass the laugh test. Reid's newest plan completely abandoned the idea of a tax hike and that's understandable, I'd say, since the President has now indelibly linked tax hikes to the Democrats.

Looking past the President's sliming of Republicans, he drew some fairly stark lines last night. Democrats are in favor of tax hikes; Republicans want to cut spending. Honestly, I think the President just did us a favor.

Now, Obama's not the only politician being disingenuous on the debt ceiling deal. He must know that his tax hike proposal isn't even on the table anymore, but he keeps blathering about it anyway. So he's just hanging out on Reid's left flank hoping to leverage his public support in exchange for a deal that takes the debt ceiling past election season.

The Republicans also have their disingenuous politicians on the right flank. Yesterday, Reps. Chaffetz and Jordan played another sad game of "I'm purer than you" when Boehner was looking for support for his plan. Chaffetz humorously claimed that he was "as no as no can be" to the Boehner plan and then sheepishly admitted that he hadn't actually seen the numbers. Jordon stomped his feet and demanded another vote on Cut, Cap, and Balance. Like the president's tax hike proposal, CCB is off the table, having already been voted on and voted down in the Senate.

So maybe Chaffetz and Jordan are just hoping to tug the final deal further to the right, even though their actual demands don't have any chance. That's fine, but the actual result is that without solid Republican support, Boehner is going to have to get more Democrats on board, which means more compromises. Whereas Obama can be expected to sign any deal that makes it through Congress, Chaffetz and Jordan cannot be relied on to vote on half a loaf.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 07:27 AM

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