Obama's Failed Debt Ceiling Gamble

My new column for the FT asks what Obama hoped to achieve by going for the grand bargain. Was he making an offer he knew the GOP would reject, believing that the talks would fail and that the main thing was to make sure Republicans got the blame? It's possible, but I doubt it.

I think it more plausible that the president was sincere - far too late, but sincere nonetheless. By intervening in the budget talks and staking his own reputation on a dramatic new proposal, he hoped to break the stalemate. He knew he risked his party's anger by putting entitlement reform, which is necessary, on the table. By doing so, he hoped to force Republicans to soften their resistance to tax increases, which are also necessary. A more balanced approach to long-term fiscal restraint would be possible - and if all went well, Mr Obama would get the credit.

It was too little leadership, too late. To make this strategy succeed, Mr Obama needed the pressure of public opinion to force Republicans to compromise. That pressure is still too weak, and the time to fix this is running out fast. Mr Obama has infuriated much of his party - again. And he has failed to budge a pathologically intransigent Republican party - again. He has come to a moment that could settle the fate of his presidency.

Presented by

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

Just In