Why is President Obama getting himself caught in the briar patch over the debt ceiling? The debt ceiling firefight seems to be consuming official Washington at a time when the president should be thinking about nothing except how to get the economy on track for next year. The president and his people seem to think that they win by getting the right poll tested sound-bites out there about a "balanced plan," "millionaires and billionaires," and "shared sacrifice."
What are they thinking? A look at the Rasmussen Presidential Poll shows the problem. Ever since the debt-ceiling fight started the president has been losing ground in the Strongly Disapprove column, while getting a very modest boost in the Strongly Approve column. That's no way to win an election.
Maybe the president and his people are crazy like a fox because they know they have to keep their base in the trenches fighting the Wascally Wepublicans. Otherwise they might get antsy and back a primary opponent against the president. More likely, if you ask me, is that they really don't have a plan to fix things before the election. They are just bulling forward hoping against hope they can get over the finish line before the track turns to mush. They are doing what they know, which is floating pretty words out to the voters.
But let's not make the mistake of calling this game of debt chicken an example of dysfunctional politics in Washington. Think of it instead as preparation of the battlefield for the 2012 election. The American people are going to be presented with a momentous choice. Do they go the Democratic Way of more spending, more regulation, more subsidies, more entitlements? Or do they make a Turn? To lower spending, reformed entitlements, lower tax rates, fewer subsidies, and less regulation?
The debt ceiling fight may be merely symbolic, for nobody is going to change anything before the election. But it shows, for anyone that is interested, that the Democrats are inflexible on their demand for continued spending. And the Republicans are inflexible on demanding spending cuts and no more taxes. Win or lose this round, both sides need to show their base that they are out there kicking and fighting for their side.
It's all pretty simple. People want to know that the politicians are on their side and that they care about people like me.
But President Obama doesn't need this mess. He needs to fix the economy, pronto. Or it's El Foldo in November 2012.