The politicians most responsible for America’s debt crisis are portrayed by the media as “grown-ups” while those least responsible for it are dubbed “intransigent.” Veteran profligate spenders have been credited in recent days with a “balanced approach” to the crisis, even as Tea Partiers in Congress with no fingerprints on the debt have been cast as recklessly indifferent to it.
The mainstream media exclusively defines “intransigence” as conservative opposition to non-negotiable liberal demands. Hence, President Obama’s willingness to risk default rather than drop his insistence on tax increases isn’t considered intransigent and reckless but principled and mature.
Polls suggest that this media manipulation of the debate over the debt ceiling is paying off for the Democrats. One recent poll says that the American public views Republican leaders as more responsible for the stalemate than Obama. Perhaps a political version of the Stockholm Syndrome is at work here. Obama certainly likes to play the captor turned hostage negotiator, saving the people from a crisis into which he has thrown them.
At his barrage of press conferences in recent days, he has presented himself as the people’s advocate who is bravely confronting a problem that both Democrats and Republicans have long ignored. This role ill-befits a president who spent two and a half years pooh-poohing the calls of deficit hawks.
He said at one of the press conferences, striking a remarkably patronizing tone: “Now, what is important is that even as we raise the debt ceiling, we also solve the problem of underlying debt and deficits. I’m glad that congressional leaders don’t want to default, but I think the American people expect more than that. They expect that we actually try to solve this problem, we get our fiscal house in order.”
Obama considers it very heroic that he is even contemplating unspecified spending cuts and expects Republicans to make a similar “sacrifice” and swallow tax increases. This line of negotiation is a self-serving diversionary sham given that the crisis is due wholly to overspending. He is simply using a crisis that he compounded through trillions of dollars in heedless expenditures to push an ideological agenda extraneous to the issue under discussion.
An honest media would expose this gambit as raw exploitation of a self-generated crisis. But, instead, it treats his euphemistic calls for tax hikes — he wants any deal to include a “revenue component” — as the epitome of reasonableness, and has assisted him in turning the discussion into a referendum on Republican flexibility.
Obama is, in effect, asking overtaxed Americans for yet another bailout, a bailout that will allow him to resume the very deficit spending that catapulted the country into this crisis in the first place. Republicans have properly pointed out that tax increases will only make a bad economy worse. But the more fundamental argument against what Obama proposes is that it is unjust: Why should the American people have to pay more taxes for Washington’s habitual mistakes?
Overspending pols are in no position to demand “sacrifice” from others, including from the rich whose already enormous tax payments make spending sprees in Washington possible. “Millionaires and billionaires can afford to do a little bit more,” says Obama, adding that “we can close corporate loopholes so that oil companies aren’t getting unnecessary tax breaks or that corporate jet owners aren’t getting unnecessary tax breaks.”
The media calls this the “balanced approach” of “grown-ups,” but it is nothing more than scape goating by a childish pol who would rather engage in juvenile and idle class warfare than acknowledge his own complicity in the crisis. He had two and a half years to fix the problem and he didn’t. Corporate jet owners, oil company executives, small business owners, and Tea Partiers aren’t responsible for this mess; he is. While he was monitoring the “sacrifices” of others, he was making none himself and burying America in debt.