by Robert B. Reich
A week before his inauguration, President Obama said he wouldn't negotiate with Republicans over raising the federal debt limit.
At an unexpected news conference Jan. 14, the president asserted that he won't trade cuts in government spending in exchange for raising the borrowing limit.
"If the goal is to make sure that we are being responsible about our debt and our deficit, if that's the conversation we're having, I'm happy to have that conversation," Obama said. "What I will not do is to have that negotiation with a gun at the head of the American people."
Well and good. But what, exactly, is the president's strategy for when the debt ceiling has to be raised, if Republicans haven't relented?
He's ruled out an end-run around the
In a pinch, the Treasury could issue IOUs to the nation's creditors -- guarantees they'll be paid eventually. But there's no indication that is Obama's game plan, either.
So it must be that Obama is counting on public pressure -- especially from big business and the
The timing may be right for such a strategy. The president is riding a wave of post-election popularity. A recent Gallup poll showed him with a 56 percent job approval rating, his highest rating in more than three years.
By contrast, approval ratings for Republicans are in the pits. John Boehner has a 21 percent approval rating, according to Public Policy Polling, and 60 percent disapproval. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has an approval rating of 24 percent. Not even
And Americans remember the summer of 2011, when the
But Obama's strategy depends on there being enough sane voices left in the
Just moments after Obama's press conference last week, McConnell called on the president and his allies "to get serious about spending," adding that "the debt-limit debate is the perfect time for it."
Boehner issued a statement following Obama's press conference, saying, "The American people do not support raising the debt ceiling without reducing government spending at the same time."
The 2012 election has shaken the
Obama's Debt-Ceiling Strategy Could Put The Squeeze on GOP | Politics