Obama says we can't avoid tough problems -- too bad he's been doing just that 

President Obama just delivered a short four-minute statement from the White House announcing he had invited Congressional leaders in both parties for debt talks on Thursday to “drive toward a final agreement.”

In a familiar choice of phrasing, Obama said, "I don’t think the people sent us here to avoid tough problems."

Yet this is a president who for two years with overwhelming majorities in Congress, drove up deficits without any serious attempt to reduce long-term debt. Then, after Republicans took over the House of Representatives this year, he released a budget in February that did nothing to reform entitlements. That budget was eventually scrapped in April, when Obama delivered a new framework on deficit reduction -- but one that was short of specifics that could actually be evaluated by the Congressional Budget Office. As CBO director Doug Elmendorf put it in recent testimony before the House Budget Committee, "We don't estimate speeches." Instead, Obama has helped lead an effort to demonize Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposal and launch class warfare attacks that are irrelevant to our budget problems (such as on corporate jets).

Meanwhile, after spending months warning against default and initially supporting a clean vote on a hike in the debt limit, Obama today rejected the idea of any short-term deal to avert default, saying the parties needed to agree on a longer-term deficit reduction plan because we can't kick the can down the road anymore.

But if a failure to raise the debt limit is so dire, why wouldn't he support a short-term deal? Is he suddenly more concerned with raising taxes than avoiding default?

This type of rhetoric is nothing new to Obama. As I pointed out more than two years ago, Shakespeare said it best:

Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven;
Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,
And recks not his own rede.

--Hamlet, I, iii, 51-55


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