by Max Brantley
The New York Times lays out President Obama's thinking on the collapse of congressional budget negotiations:
In remaining aloof from the special deficit committee in Congress even as it collapsed on Monday, President Obama showed his calculation more clearly than ever before: Republicans will never agree to raise taxes on the wealthy to balance any spending cuts, so let the voters decide.
Congress could still reach a bipartisan compromise in the next month, or next year, to avoid the threat of automatic spending cuts, especially in military programs, in 2013. But the president is figuring that Congress will not, and he will campaign by contrasting what he calls his “balanced” approach to putting the nation on a solid fiscal footing to Republicans’ antitax reliance on spending cuts, especially for Medicare and Social Security.
Yet the president’s strategy of not deeply engaging with Congress carries a big risk: that he will be seen as failing to lead on a serious threat to the country’s future, the mounting federal debt. And if Washington’s dysfunction extends to next November, voters show every sign of taking out their wrath on everyone involved — not least the occupant of the White House.
It also leaves the field open to Republican messaging — dishonest and tireless. It has worked against the facts of their protection of the millionaire class above all others before. Robert Reich said it right on Twitter last night. Republicans have put their pledge to Grover Norquist ahead of the Pledge of Allegiance.