Why Obama actually cared about the Aug. 2 deadline
posted at 10:00 am on August 1, 2011 by Tina Korbe
True, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner persistently warned that the nation might default on its obligations if politicians couldn’t strike a deal to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit by Aug. 2 — and the president took Geithner at his word (or, at least, he said he did). But the president had at least one other reason to want a quick wrap on the debt ceiling negotiations:
[H]e also wanted to get back to some other critical business: fundraising for his 2012 campaign. Obama turns 50 on Thursday. The day before, he is scheduled to fly to his hometown of Chicago for a pair of birthday fundraisers at the Aragon Entertainment Center. The events will feature musical performers and cost up to $35,800 per person, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. …
After the Chicago trip, one administration official [said], the president will hit the road several more times before his annual vacation in Martha’s Vineyard at the end of August.
To be fair, the president did cancel a couple of fundraisers to remain in Washington over the weekend (how good of him to do his job, right?), but, now that the barest of bargains has been all-but-signed-sealed-and-delivered, the president can afford to quit thinking about the country’s financial future (never mind that it’s looking scarcely less grim than it did yesterday) and start thinking about the financial future of his campaign.
Fortunately for his GOP opponents, Obama missed his opportunity to implement a few structural reforms that might have actually shifted the country’s economic course in a positive direction. Shockingly, some folks argue this most recent deal proves the president’s bona fides as a deficit hawk, but those who have paid attention (far more voters than the president supposes) know that’s not true. President Cut, Cap and Balance would have been far harder to defeat than an incumbent who first proposed a flatly defeated budget, chock full of spending increases and tax hikes, only to eventually settle for an eleventh hour deal that featured flimsy spending cuts and none of the signature revenue-raisers he made such a memorable part of his every debt-ceiling-related speech.
Unfortunately for us, the eleventh hour deal features those flimsy spending cuts and a trigger to ensure the implementation of a special commission’s deficit-reduction recommendations that could detrimentally strip defense funding — and, for at least the next year and three months, we have a president who will continually slip out of the Oval Office to tread the campaign trail.
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