Monday Morning Catch-up: News You May Have Missed
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Ciro Scotti
The Fiscal Times
July 18, 2011

Top Story/Debt Ceiling Falling On Obama

Budget Director Jack Lew was all over the Sunday morning talk shows still pushing President Obama’s proposal to slash the deficit by $4 trillion and warning of economic Armageddon if a deal is not cut by August 2.

But a pointed question from moderator David Gregory reflected a growing feeling among many Americans that Obama has mishandled the critical issue of raising the U.S. borrowing limit and averting another massive blow to the global economy.

“Is [it] the President's failed leadership that has brought us to this moment? Does he bear responsibility?” Gregory asked.

When Lew responded with a familiar line about Obama inheriting an economy “where the bottom was falling out,” Gregory got even tougher.

“But that's a programmed answer,” he said. “I mean the reality is [Obama] said, ‘My job is to get the economy back on its feet. That's my job.’ …And this budget deal has fallen apart. The President's trying to lead but he's not accomplishing it.”

“I think there's still time to get something big done,” Lew said “And the President's made it clear he wants to do something substantial. …The question is do we have a partner to work with? …Leadership requires a partner.”

On Face the Nation, new Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida took some heavy shots at Obama.

“This President has now been in charge for two and a half years, okay?” Rubio said. “He has increased federal spending by twenty-eight percent. Washington went along with his prescription for joblessness, which was the stimulus package, and unemployment is significantly higher than it was when he took over. In fact, we have not had unemployment this high for this long since the Great Depression…. Over 20 million Americans…are either unemployed or underemployed. And none of the things he said we need to do in order to turn that around have worked. …I came to Washington in January. We already knew this debt limit issue was upon us…. Months went by, weeks went by, and up until very recently the President was completely disengaged from this debt-limit debate. And I do think that in the context of politics, there was a strategy to leave this to the last possible moment
so that there would be a take-it or leave-it scenario like what some are painting right now.”

And in a weekend column in The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan, the keeper of all things Reagan, chided Obama for resorting to scare tactics when he said he didn’t know if there would be enough money in federal coffers to send out Social Security checks if a debt deal isn’t reached by August 2. “Reagan never tried to scare people into doing things his way,” she wrote. “…If the President wins this way, there will be residual costs. He will have scared America and shook it up, all for a political victory.”

The McConnell Solution

On Face the Nation, moderator Bob Schieffer asked Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) about the fall-back debt-ceiling plan proposed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.).

“This plan that Senator McConnell is working on…would give the President the authority to raise the debt ceiling and then give Congress the right to disapprove it. And it would then be passed over a presidential veto because the thinking is that there are not enough votes in the Senate--Republican votes--to override a veto. Isn’t that really just a way of raising the debt ceiling by giving the people that don’t want to take responsibility…a cover story?” Schieffer asked. “…That seems to be kind of the height of hypocrisy to me.”

When pressed by Schieffer as to whether he would support the McConnell plan, Coburn, an influential conservative, said: “I think the McConnell plan…is a great political plan. It takes the pressure off all of the politicians but allows us to pass a debt limit without making the hard choices that this country has to make. …I haven’t firmly decided, but I am unlikely to support it at this time. …I don’t care about the politics anymore. If it doesn’t solve the policy problem for this country, I’m not going to support it.”

The News Corp Scandal

The debt-ceiling drama is rivaled only by the fear and loathing surrounding the phone-hacking scandal that is threatening the media empire of News Corp mogul Rupert Murdoch.