With the president poised to meet Republicans 85 percent of the way on Draconian budget cuts and them demanding 110 percent, along comes Lawrence O’Donnell with a strategem to avoid yet another cave in, and win one for the middle class and poor by giving up zero percent.
We’ve said all along the Constitution doesn’t allow for defaulting on the public debt, but it’s now clear the 14th Amendment emphatically stipulates debts will be paid, no ifs, ands or buts.
The Thursday segment from MSNBC’s The Last Word features Bruce Bartlett, a senior economic policy analyst in the Reagan administration, then a Treasury undersecretary during the Bush 41 administration. Bartlett now writes for the Fiscal Times and New York Times.
Stakes in the bogus and unnecessary tug of war over raising the debt ceiling are enormous. Failure to raise it would send interest rates through the roof, dumping the economy into another collapse and likely taking much of the world economy with it.
And there is this:
GOP leaders have seized on the unpopular debt ceiling vote as an opportunity to further their goal of reducing the size and scope of government.
Democrats have largely accepted more than $1 trillion in spending reductions as a signal that they are willing to make difficult choices — including, a Democratic official said, $200 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
Details of such cuts are still unknown, but they will slice across every domestic agency, reducing funds for education, transportation, health and welfare. The Pentagon may be spared under the GOP plan.
At his press conference this week, Obama noted how Republicans repeatedly oppose things they’ve already endorsed whenever he signals approval of those things. Obama even seemed to indicate he gets it that Republicans’ agenda has nothing to do with governing and everything to do with ending his presidency next year.
The 14th Amendment provides Obama with a way out of being blackmailed into budget cuts that will brutalize America’s nonwealthy while all but excusing corporations and the rich from that shared sacrifice he’s said so much about.
The question now is, does Obama have enough spine to stand tall and use the power the Constitution so clearly provides him?
Millions of people already down and hurting, through no fault of their own, need the president to come through for them. If Obama fails them, he shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t show up for him in 2012.
This is not a “professional left” vs. the White House thing. This is a have nots vs. the haves thing — a case of finally fighting back in a class war the nonwealthy didn’t ask for and don’t deserve.
The transcript of Thursday’s Last Word is available here.