The President's Side
It continues to amaze me how President Obama still feels the only way to get the sympathy of the American People is to wrap himself up in the banner of Ronald Reagan. Of course, tonight he also wove in Jefferson, Bush the Elder, and Clinton. His speech was alright if it was made to educate the American People in something they hadn't been hearing about for the last 8 months. As it was, he made a fairly good- and fairly deceptive- case for the basics of the Gang of 6 plan, which for all its warts I still think is the better of the plans. I have said before I'd like to know how rank and file Tea Partiers defend tax breaks to Exxon/Mobil, GM, and their brethren. But, as usual, he didn't stop there.
It's All Their Fault
He did make a somewhat halfhearted effort to not lump all republicans together, and he did say that his own party needed to quit their crying and be willing to make tough choices on entitlements. But then he very explicitly let us know who the villains of the piece were IHHO: John Boehner and the newly elected "young gun" republicans. He managed to slip in the pro forma "they want to eliminate Medicare" just before mentioning the demand for Medicare reform, thus putting the truth out there, but covering it first with the scary lie that makes you ignore it. Instead of mentioning the $800 billion in new tax revenue that Boehner had agreed to before Obama changed the rules Friday night, he made the blanket "they won't allow for any taxes" and won't agree to making the richest Americans pay their fair share", which "they (the richest) have stepped up and been willing to do everytime this nation has had bipartisan agreement". So the rich are ready to pay the new taxes- the GOP won't let them. Hmmm.
Obama's big score
The one good hit the President got in was on Boehner's new "temporary ceiling raise" , which Obama called "kicking the can down the road another six months". And y'know what, he's right. This needs to be finished, once and for all, NOW.
For all the "smoke coming out of his ears" (said Bob Scheaffer) in this "tough speech" (Bob again), to my ears a reasonably educated high schooler could have written this and got a 'b' in his civics class.
Boehner Fires Back
The Speaker taught Bob the meaning of a tough speech. If Obama had smoke coming out, Boehner had fire and brimstone. Where I don't agree on the no taxes period approach, Boehner did score several hits.
1. Boehner said, "the President came to us in January wanting to do business as usual. Mr. President, the days of doing business as usual are over." Any of you liberals in the press and elsewhere that still want to cling to that myth of Boehner as a weepy guy who cries at the drop of a hat, you just keep telling yourself that. You may soon find tire tracks down your back.
2. Boehner wasn't afraid to mention what all America has already heard- that they had a deal Friday night and the President shat all over it. "the President changed the numbers, " Boehner said gravely. I'd surely like to be a fly on the wall when these two get together.
3. Boehner got to the heart of why he and the President have not hammered something out already: "He came to us in January wanting a blank check. He still wants it now. And he's not going to get it."
4. Boehner's characterization of the democrat idea of a balanced plan; " We spend more, you pay more." Not completely accurate, but the funniest line of the night.
5. Boehner felt no need to wrap himself in dead presidents to make his point. And he was right there.
I Hear A 'But' Coming...
I've said this on my CC&B vs GO6 post last week: This spot is not the place to bring in a Balanced Budget Amendment. I don't deny we need one, just that it needs to attach itself to this bill. Boehner hinted that his new proposal (which I haven't seen) forgoes the requirement for a BBA and instead calls for a bipartisan committee to lay the groundwork for one. If so, then let's put that into a deal which gets the cuts, caps the spending, and raises the ceiling now, not some six month patch. Boehner also called the new taxes a job killer- and giving subsidies to companies that are charging us $3.80- 4.00 a gallon for gas ISN'T??
This was the kind of speech you wish the Speaker could've gone first, so we could really see Obama at his pissed-off best. Still, for all that, it was the kind of speech that, like Obama's you wish you could've heard months ago- and not with one week left before default.
And The Winner Is...
On style and substance, Boehner. On sympathy, and pathos, Obama. But for all the good it did us as Americans, they might as well have done this in the boxing ring.