Thursday, October 17, 2013

Go Out and Win an Election

President Obama just made remarks on the end (for now) of the showdown with Republicans on the debt limit and the budget.

For the most part, he took the high road talking about what kinds of things the two sides have in common and can work on right now. But buried in the remarks, the President said that, if Republicans disagree with him, they should make that argument, they should negotiate, and they should "go out and win an election." That last clause was the one sharp elbow Obama was willing to throw today.

There is much hopeful talk from some quarters today about the possibility of a "grand bargain" on the budget coming out of this. I don't see that happening. For one, Democrats on the President's left are not in a negotiating mood. They are (wrongly) emboldened by what they perceive as their victory on the showdown. They are likely to point to the "scoreboard" and scream that Republicans lost so they need to give in now. When the President comes to Democrats and argues for modest cuts in Social Security, for instance, they are going to balk. More importantly, Republicans will not be willing to give on taxes. The President will not make a deal that doesn't include tax increases and Republicans just won't go for it.

So, that is the way in which the President's remark that Republicans should "go out and win an election" is more than just a sharp elbow. For Obama, it is the only endgame here ... the only way he moves forward. He is going to spend the next year arguing that we need a change in the House of Representatives and the series of government funding and debt limit showdowns to come are going to be the evidence he uses to convince voters to make that change.

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