In an interview with Martha Raddatz on ABC's This Week, House Speaker John Boehner told her that he "absolutely" trusts President Obama.
His response surprised Raddatz. And it surprises me too. But only a bit.
It surprises me in this respect. It was President Obama who had been blaming the sequester on Congress and, in effect, on Boehner despite the fact the sequester originated in the White House. If someone had repeatedly blamed me for their own bad idea then I could not possibly trust that person and have a good faith relationship with them.
On the other hand, one could make the case that Raddatz was trying to trap Boehner. Let's assume for argument's sake that Boehner doesn't actually trust Obama as far as he can throw him. But if Boehner were to tell Raddatz that he didn't trust Obama then she, the rest of the mainstream media and the White House could run with that for a week. Some people would relish that kind of heat. Ted Cruz immediately comes to mind. But Boehner is no Ted Cruz. So instead of Boehner telling Raddatz he doesn't trust Obama, he opts to keep up appearances.
But keeping up appearances can be a dangerous game. Raddatz asked Boehner if he agreed with Obama telling George Stephanopoulos that we were not in an immediate debt crisis. Boehner said he agreed with Obama that we were not in an immediate debt crisis. He qualified his agreement by say a debt crisis was "looming" within the next two to four years whereas Obama said our debt would be sustainable for the next decade.
That statement is troubling for several reasons. First, he gives Obama political cover. If Obama gets questioned again about the climbing debt then all he has to do is refer to Boehner's statment. Second, if a near $17 trillion debt doesn't constitute a crisis then what does? $20 trillion? $25 trillion $30 trillion? More? Third, if Boehner believes that there will be a debt crisis in the next two to four years then it would be in his best interests to address it now rather have a crisis too big to be averted by a short term deal. Of course, one could make the argument that so long as Obama is in office there will never be any meaningful fiscal reform. So even if Boehner wanted to put a meaningful dent into the debt he probably couldn't.
Nevertheless, for Boehner to even partially agree with Obama that the debt isn't an immediate crisis is disconcerting and will not inspire the confidence of fiscal hawks in the House GOP Caucus, much less Tea Party conservatives at large.
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