It is hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal. And, frankly, if you look at commentary out there, there are a lot of Republicans that are puzzled as to why it couldn’t get done. In fact, there are a lot of Republican voters out there who are puzzled as to why it couldn’t get done. Because the fact of the matter is the vast majority of the American people believe we should have a balanced approach...
The American people expect action. I continue to believe that a package that is balanced and actually has serious debt and deficit reduction is the right way to go. And the American people I think are fed up with political posturing and an inability for politicians to take responsible action as opposed to dodge their responsibilities...
Up until sometime early today when I couldn’t get a phone call returned, my expectation was that Speaker Boehner was going to be willing to go to his caucus and ask them to do the tough thing but the right thing. I think it has proven difficult for Speaker Boehner to do that. I’ve been left at the altar now a couple of times.
And I think that one of the questions that the Republican Party is going to have to ask itself is can they say yes to anything? Can they say yes to anything? I mean, keep in mind it’s the Republican Party that has said that the single most important thing facing our country is deficits and debts. We’ve now put forward a package that would significantly cut deficits and debt. It would be the biggest debt reduction package that we’ve seen in a very long time...
And so then the question becomes, where’s the leadership? Or, alternatively, how serious are you actually about debt and deficit reduction? Or do you simply want it as a campaign ploy going into the next election?...
But ultimately, that’s what we should expect from our leaders. If this was easy it would have already been done. And I think what a lot of the American people are so disappointed by is this sense that all the talk about responsibility, all the talk about the next generation, all the talk about making sacrifices, that when it comes to actually doing something difficult folks walk away.
Last point I’ll make here. I mean, I’ve gone out of my way to say that both parties have to make compromises. I think this whole episode has indicated the degree to which at least a Democratic President has been willing to make some tough compromises. So when you guys go out there and write your stories, this is not a situation where somehow this was the usual food fight between Democrats and Republicans. A lot of Democrats stepped up in ways that were not advantageous politically. So we’ve shown ourselves willing to do the tough stuff on an issue that Republicans ran on....
Now, what you’re going to hear, I suspect, is, well, if you -- if the Senate is prepared to pass the cap, cut and balance bill, the Republican plan, then somehow we can solve this problem -- that’s serious debt reduction. It turns out, actually, that the plan that Speaker Boehner and I were talking about was comparable in terms of deficit reduction. The difference was that we didn’t put all the burden on the people who are least able to protect themselves, who don’t have lobbyists in this town, who don’t have lawyers working on the tax code for them -- working stiffs out there, ordinary folks who are struggling every day. And they know they’re getting a raw deal, and they’re mad at everybody about it. They’re mad at Democrats and they’re mad at Republicans, because they know somehow, no matter how hard they work, they don’t seem to be able to keep up. And what they’re looking for is somebody who’s willing to look out for them. That’s all they’re looking for.
And for us not to be keeping those folks in mind every single day when we’re up here, for us to be more worried about what some funder says, or some talk radio show host says, or what some columnist says, or what pledge we signed back when we were trying to run, or worrying about having a primary fight -- for us to be thinking in those terms instead of thinking about those folks is inexcusable.
I mean, the American people are just desperate for folks who are willing to put aside politics just for a minute and try to get some stuff done.
So when Norah asked or somebody else asked why was I willing to go along with a deal that wasn’t optimal from my perspective, it was because even if I didn’t think the deal was perfect, at least it would show that this place is serious, that we’re willing to take on our responsibilities even when it’s tough, that we’re willing to step up even when the folks who helped get us elected may disagree.
And at some point, I think if you want to be a leader, then you got to lead.
And here are a couple of reactions from some wise ones in the pragmatic progressive blogosphere.
First of all, p m carpenter with Obama Strikes With Unprecedented Ferocity.
Not even when Bill Clinton was getting his guiltless butt impeached by predatory partisan enemies has a U.S. president so utterly mutilated his political opposition -- so righteously denounced the "inexcusable." Barack Obama's just-delivered evening announcement was brutal, beautiful, unfaltering, fiercely determined and bloodily retaliatory.
He ... has ... had ... enough.
BooMan with Boehner Walks Out, Again.
In any case, this is the end-game I've been predicting for quite some time. The president knew that Boehner couldn't deliver the votes for any plan with tax increases and so he insisted on tax increases until the very end. He's still insisting on them. At this point, some polls show as many as 80% of the people agreeing with the president's approach. The establishment media is firmly on the president's side. Pretty much any semi-casual observer is on the president's side. Politically, he has crushed the Republicans.
And Joseph Markowitz at Hope and Change has some interesting thoughts about the role of the poutragers in The Usefulness of Anger.
Now it has become clear that these screamers from the left were just playing the role that the president expected and needed them to play. The more these people helped prove that President Obama was facing tremendous heat from his base from being willing to make cuts to favored Democratic programs, the more his hand was strengthened. That is because he showed the American people that he was willing to go the extra mile, but that the Republicans were not willing to raise one penny of revenue to help reduce the deficit. They would rather protect tax breaks for corporate jets than do anything to help ordinary people. The president has fully exposed the Republicans in Congress as caring more about the interests of the most privileged among us, than about any of the issues they claim to care about.
So thank you, all you crazy outraged progressives. You made the president look great tonight.
UPDATE: Thanks to Linda H at what IS working for making this short clip from the press conference yesterday. Every American should take a moment to hear what their President said.