Orrin Hatch offered today’s Republican response to Barack Obama’s weekly address, and the Senator from Utah wasn’t in a punch-pulling mood. Venting the anger from the GOP on Capitol Hill after the President’s opening bid on fiscal-cliff negotiations, Hatch called it the equivalent of consumer fraud:
“What [Obama] proposed this week was a classic bait and switch on the American people—a tax increase double the size of what he campaigned on, billions of dollars in new stimulus spending and an unlimited, unchecked authority to borrow from the Chinese,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said in Saturday’s weekly GOP address.
“Maybe I missed it but I don’t recall him asking for any of that during the presidential campaign. These ideas are so radical that they have already been rejected on a bipartisan basis by Congress.”
I wrote about this earlier in the week. During the campaign, Obama insisted that he wanted a balanced approach to deficit reduction, and even proposed a cuts-to-revenue ratio of 5:2. In his convention speech, Obama even made a passing mention of entitlement reform in a second term as a way to control spiraling deficits. Yet, this was the deal Obama had Tim Geithner deliver this week as an opening bid:
On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was dispatched to Capitol Hill to share Obama’s plan with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) The deal included $1.6 trillion in tax hikes, $50 billion in economic stimulus spending and $400 billion in spending cuts. Republicans have demanded more severe spending cuts – including entitlement reform – to begin a discussion on raising taxes.
That ratio turned into a 1:4 rather than a 5:2. Democrats spent yesterday defending the bait-and-switch effort, claiming that Obama was just a good horse trader:
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) even went so far as to agree that the president’s proposal looked little different than a Democratic wish list.
But Hoyer also said that was wholly appropriate for an opening bid.
“I don’t think it’s a take-it-or-leave-it offer. I think it is, frankly, responsive to what the Republicans said they wanted, which is a specific offer,” Hoyer added during his weekly press briefing in the Capitol. “That doesn’t mean they have to like the offer. It does mean that they should put a very specific offer back on the table.”
The problem with negotiating under those circumstances is that it’s clear Obama isn’t negotiating in good faith. In fact, he’s not negotiating at all — he’s campaigning. Joe Scarborough blasted him yesterday for his hands-off leadership in a crisis of Obama’s own making in substantial part, and unfavorably compared him to Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich:
The former Florida congressman added that for all their flaws, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former President Bill Clinton’s mutual cooperation should be an example to Obama and Boehner.
“It begs the question, really — it’s a question that we have to be asking or at least I’m asking, why is the president in Philadelphia holding a campaign rally instead of sitting behind closed doors, you know, with John Boehner?” Scarborough said. “I keep going back to the 1990s. Who would ever look at Bill Clinton and think — would look at Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich as the models of, you know, of compromise in the age of impeachment? But those guys did not like each other at the beginning of the process. In fact, they hated each other in ’94.”
“But they spent four years behind closed doors, you know, knocking each other’s heads,” Scarborough continued. “They figured out how to balance the budget together. And they will both say it. The president will say to Gingrich, Gingrich will say to the president, four years in a row for the first time since the 1920s, and the president is flying off today to a campaign rally. I’m rooting for the president. I am. I’m rooting for Boehner. I really am. I want them to all succeed. I want us to avert this crisis. It depresses me, though, the way the president’s team is having him perform on the national stage. I think this is a bad mistake.”
It’s par for the course for Obama, using an analogy I chose very, very deliberately. It works better than the Star Wars analogy.