The president spoke today on the economy and the upcoming budget battles in Congress. Marking the fifth anniversary of the economic crash of 2008, President Obama spoke of the hard work he and his administration has done to pull the economy back from the brink of another Great Depression - from a rescue of the financial sector to the revival of the American auto industry, restoring confidence in the banking system and creating nearly 7.5 million jobs in the last three-and-a-half years. But he commanded the stage with a serious, "you're pissing me off" look on his face and one clear, unequivocal message: The President does not negotiate with economic terrorists.
Citing threats by Republican extremists in Congress to shut down the government - or worse yet, default the United States on its existing debt obligations - unless they can deny tens of millions of Americans health insurance and millions more who already have insurance better care and a better bang for their health care dollar, the president quipped, "I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos if it can’t get 100 percent of what it wants." And targeting the rest of the Republicans, Obama challenged them to come out of the Tea Party shadows:
“Are some of these folks beholden to one extreme wing of their party that they're willing to tank the entire economy just because they can't get their way on this issue?” Obama asked. “It's time for those Republicans to step up, and they've got to decide what they want to prioritize.”The president chided the expansion of economic inequality, the gulf between the super rich and everyone else, and called on Congress to work on addressing these fundamental problems that still need to fixed. While we have been pulled back from the brink, the work of rebuilding an economy that keeps the American promise for all willing to work for it remains incomplete. Congress needs to focus on reinvesting in the next generation of Americans and the next generation of industries and jobs.
The current cadre of malcontents in Congress, however, charged the president, is instead busy ginning up faux crises over a deficit that is falling at the fastest rate in 60 years and will be cut in half by the end of this year from the time when the president took office and a health care law that has helped arrest health care cost growth to the lowest in 50 years.
If Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and their band of rag tag teabaggers think that they can push around the man who ordered the operation to put a bullet between bin Laden's eyes, they are even dumber than anyone realizes. The president was forceful:
And if Congress is serious about wanting to grow the economy faster and creating jobs faster, the first order of business must be to pass a sensible budget that replaces the sequester with a balanced plan that is both fiscally sound and funds investments like education and basic research and infrastructure that we need to grow.Oh, and about Obamacare, President Obama had a very presidential way of saying 'up yours' to the nuts in Congress:
This is not asking too much. Congress’ most fundamental job is passing a budget. And Congress needs to get it done without triggering another crisis, without shutting down our government, or worse, threatening not to pay this country’s bill.
So let’s put this in perspective. The Affordable Care Act has been the law for three-and-a-half years now. It passed both houses of Congress. The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. It was an issue in last year’s election, and the candidate who called for repeal lost.Ouch. That's gotta hurt. That was aimed straight for the heart of the teabaggers, and it took the gas out of their gas balloons.
You know what's gotta hurt more? This: the president reiterating his already crystal clear stand that he will not be part of the temper tantrum thrown by the fringe Right.
But in case there’s any confusion, I will not negotiate over whether or not America keeps its word and meets its obligations. I will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States. This country has worked too hard for too long to dig out of a crisis just to see their elected representatives here in Washington purposely cause another crisis.That, my friends, is presidential speak for "the United States does not negotiate with domestic terrorists." The president is happy to work with the other side if they have serious ideas to advance the economy, to reduce the debt in a way that doesn't choke off the middle class, or to improve health reform to make it better.
But he will not allow Congress to avoid its primary Constitutional responsibility: pay the bills it racked up, fund the government, and do it without drama, without hostage taking, and without dimwitted, manufactured crises. He will not let Congress - and specifically Republicans - off the hook if they choose to hold the economy hostage to fulfill the daydreams of the right wing fringe. Nor will he let Republicans in Congress who know better off the hook. It's time to put down the domestic economic terrorists once and for good.