Open thread: Obama phones Boehner to tell him he doesn't want to talk right now

After a week of reports about 90-year-old vets being barricaded out of war memorials and federal park rangers trying to cone off the roads in front of Mt. Rushmore, The One’s decided it’s time for a messaging reboot. He’s holding a snap presser at 2 p.m. ET to remind America that (a) Republicans are suicidally stubborn and unreasonable in digging in when the debt limit is approaching and (b) that he himself is dug in and categorically refuses to negotiate even though the debt limit is approaching.


Speaking of which, evidently we’ve reached the crucial “communications about not wanting to communicate” stage of the negotiations. Next comes negotiations over whether or not to negotiate, and then finally a triumphant agreement to punt this whole process to next year sometime, when we’ll do it all again.

Who says our leaders can’t work together?

Late this morning, the President telephoned Speaker John Boehner from the Oval Office and repeated what he told him when they met at the White House last week: the President is willing to negotiate with Republicans — after the threat of government shutdown and default have been removed – over policies that Republicans think would strengthen the country. The President also repeated his willingness to negotiate on priorities that he has identified including policies that expand economic opportunity, support private sector job creation, enhance the competitiveness of American businesses, strengthen the Affordable Care Act and continue to reduce the nation’s deficit.

The President urged the Speaker to hold a vote in the House of Representatives on the Senate-passed measure that would re-open the federal government immediately. Citing the Senate’s intention to pass a clean, yearlong extension of the debt limit this week, the President also pressed the Speaker to allow a timely up-or-down vote in the House to raise the debt limit with no ideological strings attached.


Does that mean Obama’s fully prepared to hit the debt ceiling if the GOP insists on some concession in return, even if it’s a token one like repealing ObamaCare’s medical-device tax? We’ll know at 2, assuming any reporter thinks to ask him. In the meantime, some glorious news from the GOP camp: They’ve decided that the way out of this mess might be … a new Super Committee.

U.S. House Republicans are weighing legislation requiring the creation of a new negotiating panel to find deficit-reductions as part of efforts to reopen the federal government and increase Treasury Department borrowing authority, a senior House aide said.

The aide likened the proposal to the creation in 2011 of a “supercommittee,” made up of Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate, who were tasked with finding trillions of dollars in new budget savings over 10 years. That panel collapsed in failure in November 2011.

No thanks, say Democrats. Their whole strategy here, as masterminded by Harry Reid, is to convince Boehner and the rest of the House that future debt-limit brinksmanship is a dead end. And the only way to do that, in theory, is to delegitimize the tactic by not agreeing to talks of any kind until after the shutdown is over and the debt ceiling raised. Even if they were inclined to cave, they’re not going to do it for something as lame and futile as a new Super Committee, the best-case scenario for which is an agreement to hold future talks on tax reform and deficit reduction next year in exchange for raising the debt ceiling now. (The committee idea is really just a fig leaf for Boehner to raise the ceiling while telling conservatives that he got “something,” i.e. a blue-ribbon commission that’ll go nowhere, in return.) Assuming Democrats don’t budge on their no-talk strategy, which isn’t at all assured, the only thing that might tempt them to make a major concession on deficit reduction right now instead of a token concession designed to give Boehner political cover to end this process is if the House GOP agreed to include some kind of provision that would mitigate or eliminate the risk of future debt-ceiling crises. Doing that, though, would probably sink Boehner’s Speakership even more decisively than a clean debt-ceiling hike would; it’s one thing to cave now, it’s another thing to cave on behalf of future Republican-majority Congresses, which might not be able to repeal the sort of mitigation/elimination law I’m talking about. With that off the table, it means one side or the other is going to have to cave substantially in its demands. Stay tuned for the presser.


Update: He’s not wrong.

Speaker John Boehner rallied his troops this morning at a closed-door conference meeting at the Capitol. Democrats are trying to “annihilate us,” he told his members. “We can get through this if we stick together.”…

Republicans’ spines stiffened yesterday when a top White House official said at an event that Obama’s goal was to set a precedent going forward against negotiating over the debt ceiling.

“The president sent strong signals to us which we find offensive,” says Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, the chairman of the House Rules Committee. “He’s not a dictator. We have a constitution,” he adds. “It’s unreasonable and very selfish,” adds Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah about the Democrats’ refusal to talk.

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