Obama, Democrats eager for bipartisan work in new year

posted at 4:01 pm on January 5, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

The new year, as well as a New Congress, is always full of fresh hope, possibilities and opportunities. And after all of the complaints about gridlock, deadlock, padlocks or whatever other types of locks you don’t like, 2013 opens the door for a new spirit of bipartisan cooperation in DC and the Getting Done of All the Things. One such issue is the upcoming discussion over the debt ceiling, and as Andrew Malcolm reports, the President is coming out of the gate raring for some good old fashioned wheeling and dealing and bipartisan goodness.

And as I said earlier this week, one thing I will not compromise over is whether or not Congress should pay the tab for a bill they’ve already racked up. If Congress refuses to give the United States the ability to pay its bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy could be catastrophic. The last time Congress threatened this course of action, our entire economy suffered for it. Our families and our businesses cannot afford that dangerous game again.

Yep. It sure sounds like Barack Obama is ready to sit down for some traditional give and take, finding a middle way to work across the aisle and reach a mutually agreeable resolution. And it’s good to know that he’ll have the full support of his party in Congress as willing partners in finding a deal. Take it away, Chuck!

Echoing President Obama’s refusal to negotiate on the debt limit, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) warned Republicans on Friday that Democrats have no intention of giving in to any of their demands in exchange for lifting the nation’s borrowing limit to pay its bills.

“I think that risking government shutdown, risking not raising the debt ceiling, is playing with fire,” Schumer told reporters in the Capitol, in response to a question from TPM. “Anyone who wants to come and negotiate, and say ‘we will raise the debt ceiling only if you do A, B, C’ will not have a negotiating partner. And if then they don’t want to raise the debt ceiling, it’ll be on their shoulders. I would bet that they would not go forward with that.”

The No. 3 Democrat declared that Obama and congressional Democrats have learned their lesson from the 2011 fiasco that nearly led to a default. He predicted that Republicans will give in and cleanly raise the country’s borrowing authority — which expires around March — if Democrats stonewall and give them no other option.

It’s an interesting tactic to be sure. Not that long ago I would have laughed this off as a bit of preening for the cameras, but given the events of the past couple of months, I’m not so sure. I can, with very little difficulty, imagine the Senate Democrats putting up a “clean” bill to raise the debt ceiling and Obama hitting the trail with his, “I have my pen right here ready to sign” schtick. It worked for them on the tax rate deal, after all. The new strategy seems to be one of demanding what you want and daring the GOP to not go along with it, trusting that the story will be spun well enough in the press that the media will dutifully predict that Republicans will be blamed if a worst case scenario comes to pass.

In this case it would be a government shutdown, with far more immediate and drastic symptoms being felt all across the nation than sliding off the fiscal slope. Would this really work? And more to the point, will we even find out, or is Obama right and the GOP will cave on this before they have to start turning off lights on the Hill? You make the call.


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